RF MEMS startup prepares to bring switching technology to market

May 27, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
French fabless semiconductor startup DelfMEMS, active in the field of RF components and developer of RF MEMS switching solutions, has secured €5.4million in round-C funding.

A number of, predominantly French, funds have combined to make this investment, which, “will enable DelfMEMS to accelerate the industrialisation of its products....[and] will be used to support the company's growth in the next generation, wireless front-end modules for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets that need multi-standard, multi-mode mobile telephony.”

DelfMEMS’ programme is based on the move to multiple wireless standards, to meet the requirement of always-on data access, that creates a need for high speed RF switching. DelfMEMS technology uses a new, integrated, micro-mechanical building block that is based on a totally new, IP portfolio that includes seven key patents. The switch is an anchorless and push-pull mechanical device that is deflected by electrostatic forces to switch RF signals based on the principle of current electro-mechanical relays/switches. It claims to solve past issues and substantially improves insertion loss, linearity, integration, “hot” switching behaviour [switching with RF power passing through the switch – 4G and onwards using higher peak power levels than prior generation cellular waveforms], switching time and power consumption to simplify RF architectures.

The claimed benefits of DelfMEMS RF MEMS switches include improved receiver sensitivity leading to fewer dropped calls and better call quality together with optimal carrier aggregation switching for massively improved data rates. Combined with high levels of RF integration, this also results in a lower bill of materials cost for the RF Front-End module, and significantly longer battery life by reducing the power consumption of the RF module by up to 20%.

According to the company’s website, the current performance of capped DelfMEMS switching technology on devices produced in industrial foundries is -0.2 dB < @ 2 GHz insertion loss, -45 dB @ 2 GHz isolation, and a very high typical linearity above 90 dBm for high-throw-count T/R switches. These specification requirements will – the company believes – drive MEMS switch technology 2-3 generations ahead of the best SOI technologies [that is,