Semiconductors & ICs

Circuit and Method for Communication Over DC Power Line

New technique usable in harsh, high-heat environments, allows for networking and smart vehicle operation with no additional wiring beyond power. A circuit and method for transmitting and receiving on-off-keyed (OOK) signals with fractional signal-to-noise ratios uses available high-temperature silicon-on-insulator (SOI) components to move computational, sensing, and actuation abilities closer to high- temperature or high- ionizing radiation environments such as vehicle engine compartments, deep-hole drilling environments, industrial control and monitoring of processes like smelting, and operations near nuclear reactors and in space. This device allows for the networking of multiple, like nodes to each other and to a central processor. It can do this with nothing more than the already in-situ power wiring of the system. The device’s microprocessor allows it to make intelligent decisions within the vehicle operational loop and to effect control outputs to its associated actuators. The figure illustrates how each node converts digital serial data to OOK 18-kHz in transmit mode and vice-versa in receive mode; though operations at lower frequencies or up to a megahertz are within reason using this method and these parts.

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Advanced Ultra-Thin Integrated Electronics on Membranes

Flexible integrated circuits are integrated with other circuitry on flexible membranes. A method of fabricating flexible assemblies comprising flexible integrated circuits bonded onto or into flexible membranes has been developed. The method provides for bonding of thinned (more specifically, thin enough to be flexible) integrated-circuit chips to the membranes and for electrical connection of the integrated circuits to other circuitry on or in the membranes. The method is expected to enable the further development of a variety of membrane-based flexible, lightweight electronic systems and assemblies — for example, phasedarray antenna assemblies comprising integrated-circuit transmitting/ receiving (T/R) modules further integrated with arrays of transmission lines and antenna radiator elements.

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MMIC Amplifiers for 90 to 130 GHz

Output power exceeds that of prior solid-state amplifiers operating above 110 GHz. The figure shows two monolithic microwave integrated-circuit (MMIC) amplifier chips optimized to function in the frequency range of 90 to 130 GHz, covering nearly all of F-band (90 – 140 GHz). These amplifiers were designed specifically for local-oscillator units in astronomical radio telescopes such as the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). They could also be readily adapted for use in electronic test equipment, automotive radar systems, and communications systems that operate between 90 and 130 GHz.

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Microrectenna: A Terahertz Antenna and Rectifier on a Chip

Microscopic rectennas would supply DC power to microdevices. A microrectenna that would operate at a frequency of 2.5 THz has been designed and partially fabricated. The circuit is intended to be a prototype of an extremely compact device that could be used to convert radio-beamed power to DC to drive microdevices (see Figure 1).

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Cumulative Timers for Microprocessors

Accumulated operating times and serial numbers would be displayed. It has been proposed to equip future microprocessors with electronic cumulative timers, for essentially the same reasons for which land vehicles are equipped with odometers (total-distance-traveled meters) and aircraft are equipped with Hobbs meters (total-engine-operating time meters). Heretofore, there has been no way to determine the amount of use to which a microprocessor (or a product containing a microprocessor) has been subjected. The proposed timers would count all microprocessor clock cycles and could only be read by means of microprocessor instructions but, like odometers and Hobbs meters, could never be reset to zero without physically damaging the chip.

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G4-FETs as Universal and Programmable Logic Gates

Logic functions could be implemented using fewer active circuit elements. An analysis of a patented generic silicon-on-insulator (SOI) electronic device called a G4-FET has revealed that the device could be designed to function as a universal and programmable logic gate. The universality and programmability could be exploited to design logic circuits containing fewer discrete components than are required for conventional transistor-based circuits performing the same logic functions.

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Improved On-Chip Measurement of Delay in an FPGA or ASIC

Input and output buffers and the associated delays are eliminated. An improved design has been devised for on-chip-circuitry for measuring the delay through a chain of combinational logic elements in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). Heretofore, it has been the usual practice to use either of two other types of on-chip delay-measuring circuits: A delay chain of inverters is incorporated into the FPGA or ASIC chip along with an input port for feeding the inverter chain and an output port for feeding a signal to off-chip measurement circuitry. The disadvantage of this design is that the measurement is inaccurate because it includes delays in buffers that are parts of the input and output ports. The delay chain is arranged as a ring oscillator. The disadvantage of this design is that the delay chain does not always oscillate as expected.

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