Compact, Miniature MMIC Receiver Modules for an MMIC Array Spectrograph

MMIC multi-chip modules can be used in astrophysics telescopes, automotive radar, and communication links.

A single-pixel prototype of a W-band detector module with a digital backend was developed to serve as a building block for large focal-plane arrays of monolithic millimeter-wave integrated circuit (MMIC) detectors. The module uses low-noise amplifiers, diode-based mixers, and a WR10 waveguide input with a coaxial local oscillator. State-of-the-art InP HEMT (high electron mobility transistor) MMIC amplifiers at the front end provide approximately 40 dB of gain. The measured noise temperature of the module, at an ambient temperature of 300 K, was found to be as low as 450 K at 95 GHz. The modules will be used to develop multiple instruments for astrophysics radio telescopes, both on the ground and in space. The prototype is being used by Stanford University to characterize noise performance at cryogenic temperatures. The goal is to achieve a 30–50 K noise temperature around 90 GHz when cooled to a 20 K ambient temperature. Further developments include characterization of the IF inphase (I) and quadrature (Q) signals as a function of frequency to check amplitude and phase; replacing the InP low-noise amplifiers with state-ofthe- art 35-nm-gate-length NGC low-noise amplifiers; interfacing the frontend module with a digital back-end spectrometer; and developing a scheme for local oscillator and IF distribution in a future array.

While this MMIC is being developed for use in radio astronomy, it has the potential for use in other industries. Applications include automotive radar (both transmitters and receivers), communication links, radar systems for collision avoidance, production monitors, ground-penetrating sensors, and wireless personal networks.

This work was done by Pekka P. Kangaslahti, Todd C. Gaier, Joelle T. Cooperrider, Lorene A. Samoska, Mary M. Soria, Ian J. O’Dwyer, Sander Weinreb, Brian Custodero, and Heather Owen of Caltech; Keith Grainge of Cambridge University; Judy M. Lau and Sarah Church of Stanford University; and Richard Lai and Xiaobing Mei of Northrop Grumman Corp. for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Semiconductors & ICs category. NPO-46522

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Compact, Miniature MMIC Receiver Modules for an MMIC Array Spectrograph (reference NPO-46522) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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