MEMS-modulated waveguides enhance terahertz systems

November 16, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a manufacturing technology for the integration of terahertz systems that uses MEMS to change the shape of waveguides.

The image above shows left, an amplifier using the traditional waveguide technology and on the right, a component based on VTT's micromechanical waveguides.

The system is based on micromechanical waveguides manufactured on a silicon wafer and active millimetre wave monolithic integrated circuits (MMIC). The waveguides allow the low-loss transfer of signals to the MMIC circuits and also acts as the enclosure solution for the MMIC circuit.

The net result is the cost-effective development and manufacture of terahertz instruments for telecommunications, imaging and space that operate at higher frequencies and occupy less space.

The use of systems operating at frequencies exceeding one hundred gigahertz is limited by the expensive manufacturing methods. Additionally, the current waveguide-based systems are too large for wide-scale use. "The new solution enables the cost-effective manufacturing of systems exceeding one hundred gigahertz," said Pekka Pursula from VTT, who lead the team that worked on the technology.

The technology can be utilised in telecommunications applications, where radio links built in frequency bands of over one hundred gigahertz lay down the groundwork for wireless data transfer that is faster than today. This also benefits imaging solutions operating at terahertz frequencies such as security cameras that reveal, for example, bladed objects hidden under clothing. The technology is also suitable for the manufacturing of increasingly smaller remote mapping devices used in satellites in space.

"Our goal is to reduce the production costs to one tenth of what can be achieved with the current standard manufacturing methods, while making the components significantly smaller," said Pursula.

VTT intends to transfer the research and manufacturing technology to the industrial sector.

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