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MMIC and RFIC Examples

39GHz SMT Packaged PA for 5G Applications

Spectrum at 39GHz (38.6 to 40GHz) and 37GHz (37 to 38.6GHz) has been made available by the FCC on a flexible use basis; the allocation was intended to encourage the development and trial of 5G systems. The photo shows  an evaluation PCB containing a 5G PA designed by PRFI, which covers both of these bands. It has a gain of around 20dB and  an output referred IP3 of +40dBm from 37 to 42GHz, as evaluated on the PCB. The IC is fabricated on a high volume 0.15µm GaAs PHEMT process and assembled into an SMT compatible air-cavity QFN plastic package. It incorporates an on-chip power detector, which allows the transmitted output power to be monitored.

Watch a video presentation on mmWave for 5G applications

2-18GHz MMIC upconverter

A 2-18GHz upconverter IC was designed and evaluated for Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) applications. The function of the IC was to enable a signal anywhere in the 2-18GHz frequency band to be converted to 21-23GHz for subsequent downconversion to an IF suitable for digitisation – the required LO range is therefore 23-41GHz. The RF, LO and IF ports of the IC were all single ended, but in order to achieve adequate port-to-port isolation the internal mixer was balanced at all ports. The IC therefore included novel broadband active and passive balun structures to convert the single-ended signals to differential. The IC was fabricated on the Qorvo (TriQuint Semiconductor) Texas’ 0.25mm PHEMT process, and has a measured conversion loss of 7dB to 14GHz, rising to 10dB by 18GHz. Input return loss is better than 12dB from 2 to 18GHz and LO rejection is over 30dB across the band.

Read a technical paper on this MMIC upconverter design

LNAs, PAs and switches for 40.5 to 43.5GHz microwave point to point links

PRFI’s knowledge of high volume commercial product development and an in-depth understanding of mm-wave technology allowed the team to develop a range of low cost 40 to 43GHz mmWave components for a high data-rate wireless infrastructure system. This work included the development of full custom LNA, PA and switch MMICs. The LNA and PA were realised on a short gate length PHEMT process, but this process was not suitable for implementing low loss mmWave switches. Qorvo’s commercially available GaAs Vertical PIN diode (VPIN) process was selected for this purpose and Single Pole Double Throw (SPDT) and Single Pole 4 Throw (SP4T) switch designs were produced. Parts addressing the entire 24 to 45GHz band were developed in two bands: 24 to 34GHz and 34 to 45GHz. The resulting MMICs exhibited a measured performance in close agreement with simulated, and had an insertion loss of around 1dB.

Read a technical paper on this 40.5 to 43.5GHz SP4T MMIC design

CMOS transceivers for 1.8GHz and 2.4GHz applications

When National Semiconductor Corporation needed to ensure their new range of digital wireless tranceivers were launched on time, PRFI was on hand to provide the experienced design skills required. The resulting products were successfully launched and to date over 500 million units have been sold. PRFI’s team worked as an extension of National’s own design team with responsibility for key blocks but also attending project meetings and collaborating with the development of the complete radio transceiver.

Read a case study on CMOS transceiver IC design

GaAs phase shifters for phased array applications

Phase shifters find applications in electronic beam-forming, channel matching networks and measurement systems. MMIC implementations are particularly attractive for electronic beam-forming applications because they are small, repeatable and can be produced in low cost at high volumes. PRFI has a long history of phase shifter MMIC design, including stand-alone phase shifter MMICs, gain/phase control MMICs, core chips and complete Tx/Rx module for phased array radars.

Read a technical paper on MMIC phase shifter design