Researchers at Northeastern University and Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) have developed a method for tuning the radio frequency in smartphones and other wireless devices that reduces costs and improves the performance of semiconductors used in defense, satellite, and commercial communications.
The latest radio frequency circuits in smartphones rely on tuning done with radio frequency varactors. The new method enables tuning in inductors as well, which would enhance a smartphone's tunable frequency range from 50 percent to 200 percent, according to Northeastern professor Nian Sun.
The researchers used a thin magnetic piezoelectric film deposit in an experimental inductor about a centimeter square, using microelectromechanical systems processes. The researchers found that they could apply the right amount of voltage on a layer of metal going around a core of piezoelectric film to change its permeability.
SRC's Kwok Ng says the research means that future inductors can be used to improve radio signal performance, which could eliminate the number of modules needed in a smartphone, with the potential to reduce the cost of materials.
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