Mojgan Daneshmand wants to make switches smaller. A lot smaller.
“For a multifunctional system, you need so many switches,” she explains. “Size becomes an issue.” It’s a particular problem in portable devices, like cell phones, or in ones where weight is critical, like orbiting satellites, which are Mojgan’s particular interest.
Mojgan believes that RF MEMS (radio-frequency micro-electro-mechanical) switches are the answer. They can be as small as 100 microns – five times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence – but they work as well as centimetre-long mechanical switches.
But RF MEMS switching is a technology in its infancy. As a Waterloo electrical engineering doctoral student and then a post-doctoral fellow, Mojgan worked to bring her switches out of the lab, developing new designs – she filed for two patents – and new testing and fabrication procedures. The fabrication process she and her colleagues put in place is so successful that people from all over the world submit their designs to Waterloo to be built.
Mojgan’s next project? Using her switches for another application where size and reliability are both critical: medical implants.