ARM Purification

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17 September 2019

FBH presenting III-V electronics portfolio at European Microwave Week

In a joint booth (B2200) with ‘Research Fab Microelectronics Germany’ (FMD) at European Microwave Week (EuMW 2019) in Porte de Versailles Paris, France (1-3 October), Berlin-based Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik (FBH) is presenting its portfolio of III-V-based electronics (components for the digitization of mobile communications, for industrial and biomedical systems, and for space applications), including a selection of new developments in power amplifiers, circuits and heterointegrated chips.

In addition to its components for 5G, space communications, and terahertz systems for imaging techniques, FBH is showing a live demonstrator for pulsed laser sources. Using a particularly fast-switching gallium nitride (GaN)-based driver, the pulse length and intensity can be flexibly adjusted between 200ps and 20ns. The system can be flexibly equipped with laser diodes of various wavelengths (630-1180nm). For example, in light detection & ranging (LiDAR) systems, wavelength-stabilized laser diodes emitting at 905nm with 100W peak output power and pulse widths of 3-10ns are used.

Components for 5G and for satellite communications and sensors

Information and communication technologies account for 5% of global energy consumption – in the telecoms sector alone, demand is rising by 10% each year. The projected 5G systems will use higher frequencies, enabling larger signal bandwidth. FBH is presenting two approaches to improve their energy efficiency: a fully digital transmitter architecture and supply voltage modulation for linear amplifiers.

For future mobile communications, FBH is developing digital power amplifiers with efficient amplifier chips based on its 0.25µm GaN-HEMT process. The institute has hence realized the first fully digital transmitter chain that transmits broadband signals with maximum efficiency and linearity (47% at >52dB ACLR). The compact digital transmitter is particularly suitable for multi-antenna systems (massive MIMO) where it can be mounted on the rear side of the antenna.

As a second approach, systems are realized whose supply voltage is modulated and which are suitable for 5G and satellite communications. Their specialty is the efficient amplification of signals with high modulation bandwidths. Together with the European Space Agency (ESA), FBH has developed a novel envelope tracking (ET) demonstrator for communication in space at 1.62GHz. The amplifier has a peak output power of more than 90W with a modulation bandwidth of 40MHz. With an 8.6 PAPR (peak-to-average power ratio) signal, overall efficiency reaches 40%.

Concepts using modulated supply voltage are now also transferred to millimeter-wave amplifiers, which is an interesting option for 5G base stations. FBH has developed a corresponding module consisting of two identical MMICs connected in series. Each consists of a single-stage amplifier with an integrated two-stage voltage switch (class G). The module operates in the 20-26GHz range with 14dB gain and more than 2W/mm at 20V supply voltage.

For satellite sensors, FBH is also developing a modular MIMO radar at 85-95GHz based on FBH’s indium phosphide (InP) transfer-substrate double heterojunction bipolar transistor (DHBT) process. The imaging radar will be used to locate and track objects in the vicinity of satellites. For this purpose, a complete chipset was developed and integrated into a module. The chipset uses novel monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) with a high output power of >15dBm, a low noise figure (NF) <9dB and frequency converters down to the baseband.

Terahertz detectors and arrays for imaging systems

The terahertz (THz) range offers good spatial resolution and can penetrate most non-metallic materials. It is therefore suitable for a wide range of industrial and safety-relevant applications. However, there are still no imaging systems available with sufficiently high sensitivity and readout speed in this frequency range. Among other things, sensitive, fast and cost-effective THz detectors are missing that offer the potential to be used in THz cameras.

FBH has developed such detectors, which can easily be assembled into arrays. The III-V-based THz detectors offer superior values for the equivalent noise power NEP <25pW/sqrt(Hz) with a highest sensitivity of >100mA/W at 500GHz. These values are said to exceed the best THz detectors available in CMOS technology. The plan is now to develop THz cameras with similar values and an image refresh rate of more than 500 frames per second.


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