Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Thomas M. Weller, Ph.D.


NCD, Charging, High power, Capacitive switch, DC switch


Nanocrystalline diamond (NCD) due its outstanding thermal, mechanical and tribological properties is an ideal candidate for MEMS/NEMS devices. NCD offers the possibility to increase the reliability and life time of RF-MEMS switches and by mitigating the problems of stiction, charge trapping, surface wear and cold welding found in traditional all metal MEMS devices. In this work, nanocrystalline diamond cantilever beams and bridges have been fabricated on a low resistive silicon substrate by using standard micromachining techniques. The diamond structures are then integrated onto alumina and aluminium nitride substrates upon which microwave transmission lines in the microstrip and coplanar waveguide (CPW) topology have been fabricated. The diamond actuators are integrated using a combined soldering and flip chip technique.

The NCD bridges are thermally actuated wherein the difference in coefficient of thermal expansion between copper and diamond bends the diamond bridge thus moving the bridges to the actuated state. In the CPW topology, RF-MEMS switches and tunable planar inductors are realized using the micromachined devices. These devices are mounted on a 650 micrometer thick alumina substrate and the microwave characteristics are analyzed in the frequency range of 5-30 GHz. The switches yield a return loss of 15 dB and an insertion loss of 0.2 dB at 20GHz. An inductance ratio of 2.2 is achieved by the tunable inductors at 30 GHz. High power measurements are performed on the diamond actuators which utilize a dual actuation scheme which comprises of thermal and electrostatic actuation. The measurements are performed on the diamond actuators in the power range of 24-47 dBm for the mechanically actuated switches, and 24-40 dBm for electrically actuated switches.

The measurements show an insertion loss of 0.2-03 dB in the entire power spectrum. NCD based RF-MEMS capacitive switches is also designed, fabricated and tested. The switches are fabricated on a high resistive silicon substrate and are electrostatically actuated. Small signal measurements are presented in the frequency range of 1-65 GHz. The measured insertion loss in the up-state is 1.1 dB at 50 GHz with 30 dB isolation in the down-state. Dielectric characterization is performed using the Corona-Kelvin technique and the standard I-V and C-V stress tests for nitride and diamond films. The leaky nature of the diamond films provides a potential solution to reliability issues related to dielectric charging.