Menlo Micro and Pickering Interfaces
Pickering Interfaces has been a name in high performance switching for decades. They provide quality switching modules for a diverse range of applications, including military/defense, aerospace, semiconductor, automotive, and test & measurement. When a semiconductor test customer came to Pickering asking for a product that could provide the same level of performance as an electromechanical relay (EMR) PXI switch module but with greater operational life, both Pickering and their client had only one good option.
As solid-state relays/switches would not have the necessary performances (insertion loss, power handling, linearity), and the large, slow, and inefficient EMR switches would only last a few months with the aggressive cycling the client needed, the last bastion of hope was to find an innovative and unique microelectromechanical system (MEMS) switch that inherits the benefits of both EMR and solid-state relays/ switches. However, there have been many promising MEMS switch products that Pickering has been hopeful of integrating into a product, only for those companies to fall to the wayside. Overcoming this hesitation and reasonable concern around MEMS devices, their client and Pickering embraced a Menlo Micro MEMS-based Ideal Switch solution.
After only a few months of design and testing, a working prototype of an upgraded PXI RF Multiplexer solution was put into the hands of Pickering’s customer who was exhausted with the expense, delays, and burden caused by replacing EMR switch units every few months. After months of flawless operation, Pickering’s client is sold on the MEMS switch solution, and a new bright future for Pickering and Menlo Micro has been born. This paper aims to educate readers on the nuances associated with high cycle
switch applications, like those experienced by Pickering’s semiconductor test customer, and how a proven switch solution fielded by a MEMS company in production that is here to stay can fill a gap left by legacy switching