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On the Trade-Off Between Quality Factor and Tuning Ratio in Tunable High-Frequency Capacitors

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A benchmark of tunable and switchable devices at microwave frequencies is presented on the basis of physical limitations to show their potential for reconfigurable cellular applications. Performance limitations are outlined for each given technology focusing on the quality factor (Q) and tuning ratio (eta) as figures of merit. The state of the art in terms of these figures of merit of several tunable and switchable technologies is visualized and discussed. If the performance of these criteria is not met, the application will not be feasible. The quality factor can typically be traded off for tuning ratio. The benchmark of tunable capacitor technologies shows that transistor-switched capacitors, varactor diodes, and ferroelectric varactors perform well at 2 GHz for tuning ratios below 3, with an advantage for GaAs varactor diodes. Planar microelectromechanical capacitive switches have the potential to outperform all other technologies at tuning ratios higher than 8. Capacitors based on tunable dielectrics have the highest miniaturization potential, whereas semiconductor devices benefit from the existing manufacturing infrastructure.

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