A new approach for the development of tunable and reconfigurable microstrip (MS) devices is proposed. The basic idea consists of using a suspended substrate with an integrated network of plastic tubes, which can be selectively filled in with a high-permittivity dielectric fluid, e.g., water. The local change of the substrate effective permittivity achieved in such a way enables one to change, in a controlled and reversible manner, the electrical length of certain elements of MS circuits.
As a proof-of-concept, tunable stub resonators based on suspended and inverted MS lines are designed and characterized in frequency and time domains. The same principle is then applied for the development of a fourth-order bandpass filter with 40% fractional bandwidth operating at 5 GHz. A tunable range of 19.5% with the insertion loss of 0.6 dB is demonstrated. The performance of the stub resonators and filter is validated successfully via prototyping.