There is growing need to adopt additive technologies for the production of RF/microwave electronics. This trend is motivated by the need for rapid prototyping and the production of RF systems that are flexible, lightweight, conformable and wearable. Printing RF electronics for DoD applications (e.g., radars, communication systems) is challenging since the requisite materials, components and systems demand higher performance than required for low frequency applications.
This talk will describe several printed devices and subsystems, including tunable frequency selective surfaces, phased arrays, printed phase shifters, and printed varactors. Ink development, hybrid chip integration, printed interconnects, and additive microelectronic packaging are key elements of this research. Our work includes multi-physics based design and modeling as well as the development of printing/processing technologies. The formulation of new materials (inks etc), and characterization of their properties at microwave frequencies, are key challenges in applying additive manufacturing to printed RF and microwave devices. Details of these challenges and ways of mitigating them through specific applications, which exemplify all stages of development, will be presented. Details of a novel ferroelectric ink, tunable substrates, printed interconnects, and novel ink characterization methods, the key enablers for these applications and devices, will be described.