Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Cosme Furlong, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Ryszard J. Pryputniewicz, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

John M. Sullivan, Jr., Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Gretar Tryggvason, Department Head

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Raymond R. Hagglund, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

David Rosato, Committee Member




"Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology has been evolving for about two decades and, now it is integrated in many designs, including radio frequency (RF) switches characterized by µm dimensions. Today, designers are attempting o develop the ideal RF MEMS switch, yet electro-thermo-mechanical (ETM) effects still limit the design possibilities and adversely affect reliability of these microswitches. The ETM effects are a result of Joule heat generated at the microswitch contact areas. This heat is due to the current passing through the microswitch, characteristics of the contact interfaces, and other parameters characterizing a particular design. It significantly raises temperature of the microswitch, thus affecting the mechanical and electrical properties of the contacts, which may lead to welding, causing a major reliability issue. Advanced research was performed, in this thesis, to minimize the Joule heat effects on the contact areas, thus improving performance of the microswitch. Thermal analyses done computationally on a cantilever-type RF MEMS switch indicate heat-effected zones and the influences that various design parameters have on these zones. Uncertainty analyses were also performed to ensure accuracy of the computational results, which indicate contact temperatures on the order of 700˚C, for the cases considered in this thesis. Although these temperatures are well below the melting temperatures of the materials used, new designs of the microswitches will have to be developed, in order to lower their maximum operating temperatures and reduce temporal effects they cause, to increase reliability of the RF MEMS switches."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





thermal effects, MEMS switches, RF switches, Microelectromechanical systems, Effect of temperature on, Radio frequency, Heat, Transmission