This paper reports on the investigation of the potentialities of the MEMS technologies to develop innovative microsystem for millimetre wave communication essentially for space applications. One main issue deals with the robustness and the reliability of the equipment as it may difficult to replace or to repair them when a satellite has been
launched. One solution deals with the development of redundancy rings that are making the front end more robust. Usually, the architecture of such system involves waveguide or diode technologies, which present severe limitations in term of weight, volume and insertion loss. The concept considered in this paper is to replace some key elements of such system by MEMS based devices (Micromachined transmission lines, switches) in order to optimize both the weight and
the microwave performance of the module. A specific technological process has been developed consisting in the fabrication of the devices on a dielectric membrane on air suspended in order to improve the insertion loss and the isolation. To prove the concept, building
blocks have been already fabricated and measured (i.e micromachined transmission and filter featuring very low insertion loss, single pole double through circuits to address the appropriate path of the redundancy ring). We have to outline that MEMS technology have allowed a simplification of the architecture and a different system partitioning which gives more degree of freedom for the system designer. Furthermore, it has been conducted an exhaustive
reliability study in order to identify the failure mechanisms. Again, from the results obtained, we have proposed an original topology for the SPDT circuit that takes into account the reliability behaviour of the MEMS devices and that allow to prevent most of the failure mechanisms reported so far (mainly related to the dielectric charging effect). Finally, the active device (millimetre wave low noise amplifier) will be reported on the MEMS based chip using flip
chip technology to integrate the Microsystem.