MEMS parallel-plate tunable capacitors are widely used in different areas such as tunable filters, resonators and communications (RF) systems for their simple structures, high Q-factors and small sizes. However, these capacitors have relatively low tuning range (50%) and are subjected to highly sensitive and nonlinear capacitance-voltage (C-V) responses. In this paper novel designs are developed which have C-V responses with high linearity and tunability and low sensitivity. The designs use the flexibility of the moving plates. The plate is segmented to provide a controllable flexibility. Segments are connected together at end nodes by torsional springs. Under each node there is a step which limits the vertical movement of that node. An optimization program finds the best set of step heights that provides the highest linearity. Two numerical examples of three-segmented- and six-segmented-plate capacitors verify that the segmentation of moving plate can considerably improve the linearity without decreasing the conventional tunability. A two-segmented-plate capacitor is then designed for standard processes which cannot fabricate steps of different heights. The new design uses a flexible step (spring) under middle node. The simulation of a capacitor with flexible middle step, designed for PolyMUMPs process, demonstrates a C-V response with high tunability and linearity and low sensitivity.

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