7 May 2012 Micromachined low-mass RF front-end for beam steering radar
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Abstract
Sensors for autonomous small robotic platforms must be low mass, compact size and low power due to the limited space. For such applications, as the dimensions of the structures shrink, standard machining methods are not suitable because of low fabrication tolerances and high cost in assembly. Commonly, the structures show a high degree of fabrication complexity due to error in alignment, air gaps between conductive parts, poor metal contact, inaccuracy in patterning because of non-contact lithography, complex assemblies of various parts, and high number of steps needed for construction. However, micromachining offers high fabrication precision, provides easy fabrication and integration with active devices and hence is suitable for manufacturing high MMW and submillimeter-wave frequency structures. A radar design compatible with micromachining process is developed to fabricate a Y-band high resolution radar structure with a slot-fed patch array antenna. A multi-step silicon DRIE process is developed for the fabrication of the waveguide structure while the slots are suspended on a thin oxide/nitride/oxide membrane to form the top cover of the waveguide trenches and the patch elements are suspended on a thin Parylene membrane. Gold thermocompression bonding and Parylene bonding are used to assemble different parts of the antenna. These processes result in a compact (4.5 cm × 3.5 cm × 1.5 mm) and light-weight (5 g) radar.
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M. Vahidpour, M. Vahidpour, M. Moallem, M. Moallem, J. East, J. East, K. Sarabandi, K. Sarabandi, "Micromachined low-mass RF front-end for beam steering radar", Proc. SPIE 8373, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications IV, 83731N (7 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.920797; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.920797
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