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January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Institute of Technology
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

PI: Rhonda R. Franklin

Investigations of Microfluidics in RF/Microwave Planar Circuit Design Performance

This research explores the use of microfluidic design approaches in radio frequency (RF)/microwave planar circuit design. These types of circuits are essential in the development of advanced communication systems currently seen in wireless and radar technologies.

The researchers use microfluidic channels in coplanar waveguide circuits. This circuit topology provides easy access to the signal line and ground plane, especially for transistor integration, since all traces are printed on the same surface. Characteristic impedance is a key design parameter to RF/microwave design that is controlled by the conductor physical design (inductance and resistance) and dielectric properties (capacitance and inductance) of the substrate. By modifying the dielectric constant with the use of fluids, it is possible to create reconfigurable schemes in filtering and tuning by dynamically changing the capacitance and thus characteristic impedance of the line.

The group uses MSI to model such systems and the next extension of their preliminary studies based on ideal transmission line theory. This research phase will allow them to model specific structures being considered for the fabrication and test of coplanar waveguides with microfluidic channels. One potential outcome is a novel method for creating reconfigurable systems that are essential for the rapid changes occurring in wireless communication systems.

Group Member

Casey Murray, Graduate Student