Silicon-Micromachined Waveguide Calibration Shims for Terahertz Frequencies

A new method of realising precision waveguide shims for use in THz Through-Reflect-Line (TRL) calibrations, based on silicon-micromachining, is introduced. The proposed calibration shims combine a thin λ/4 silicon layer, co-fabricated with a thicker layer which provides mechanical support. This design overcomes the limitations of CNC milling for the creation of calibration shims, facilitating use of standard TRL calibration at currently challenging frequencies. The novel shim fits inside the inner recess of a standard waveguide flange and is compatible with conventional flange alignment pins. Five micromachined shims were fabricated in a silicon-on-insulator process for operation in the WM-570 waveguide band (325–500 GHz). The fabricated shims show excellent performance across the entire band, with return loss in excess of 25 dB, insertion loss below 0.2 dB and high uniformity between samples. Verification reveals that the micromachined shims have an electrical length within 2% of the expected value. Comparative measurements of a DUT calibrated with the proposed shim and a previously un-used conventional metallic shim show that the novel concept offers equivalent, if not better, performance. The mechanical design of the micromachined shim and the rigid nature of silicon ensure that it will not suffer from performance degradation with repeated use, as is problematic with thin metallic shims. This work enables the creation of low-cost, highly-repeatable, traceable calibration shims with micrometer feature-sizes and high product uniformity, surpassing the limits of current techniques.