University of Oulu

Electrically tunable microwave devices using BST-LTCC thick films

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Author: Palukuru, Vamsi Krishna
Organizations: University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Department of Electrical and Information Engineering
University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Microelectronics and Materials Physics Laboratories
University of Oulu, Infotech Oulu
Format: eBook
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2010
Publish Date: 2010-10-26
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Technology of the University of Oulu for public defence in OP-sali (Auditorium L10), Linnanmaa, on 5 November 2010, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Doctor Charles E. Free
Doctor M. T. Sebastian


The thesis describes electrically tunable microwave devices utilising low sintering temperature, screen printable Barium Strontium Titanate (BST) thick films. The work has been divided into two parts. In the first section, the fabrication and microwave characterisation of BST material based structures compatible with Low Temperature Cofired Ceramic technology (BST-LTCC) are presented. Three different fabrication techniques, namely: direct writing, screen printing and via filling techniques, were used for the realisation of the structures. A detailed description of these fabrication techniques is presented. The dielectric properties such as relative permittivity, static electric field dependent tunability and loss tangent of BST-LTCC structures at microwave frequencies were characterised using coplanar waveguide transmission line and capacitive element techniques. The measured dielectric properties of BST-LTCC structures realised with the different fabrication methods are presented, compared and discussed.

The second section describes tunable microwave devices based on BST-LTCC structures. A frequency tunable folded slot antenna (FSA) with a screen printed, integrated BST varactor is presented. The resonant frequency of the FSA was tuned by 3.2% with the application of 200 V external bias voltage. The impact of the BST varactor on the total efficiency of the antenna was studied through comparison with a reference antenna not incorporating the BST varactor. A compact, frequency tunable ceramic planar inverted-F antenna (PIFA) utilising an integrated BST varactor for mobile terminal application is presented. The antenna's resonant frequency was tuned by 3% with an application of 200 V bias voltage. Frequency tunable antennas with a completely integrated electrically tunable BST varactor with silver metallisation are introduced in this work for the first time. The integration techniques which are described in this thesis have not been previously reported in scientific literature. The last part of the thesis presents a microwave delay line phase shifter operating at 3 GHz based on BST-LTCC structures. The figure of merit (FOM) of the phase shifter was measured to be 14.6 °/dB at 3 GHz and and the device employs a novel structure for its realisation that enabled the required bias voltage to be decreased, while still maintaining compliance with standard screen printing technology. The performance of the phase shifter is compared and discussed with other phase shifters realised with the BST thick film process.

The applications of BST-LTCC structures were demonstrated through frequency tuning of antennas, varactors, and phase shifters. The low sintering temperature BST paste not only enables the use of highly conductive silver metallisation, but also makes the devices more compact and monolithic.

Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. C, Technica
ISSN-E: 1796-2226
ISBN: 978-951-42-6317-0
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-6316-3
Issue: 366
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