Semiconductors & ICs

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.

Posted in: Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs, TSP

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MMIC Amplifier Produces Gain of 10 dB at 235 GHz

This is the fastest MMIC amplifier reported to date. The first solid-state amplifier capable of producing gain at a frequency >215 GHz has been demonstrated. This amplifier is an intermediate product of a continuing effort to develop amplifiers having the frequency and gain characteristics needed for a forthcoming generation of remote-sensing instruments for detecting water vapor and possibly other atmospheric constituents. There are also other potential uses for such amplifiers in wide-band communications, automotive radar, and millimeter- wave imaging for inspecting contents of opaque containers.

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Integrated Radial Probe Transition From MMIC to Waveguide

Packaging based on wire bonding would be supplanted by monolithic integration. A radial probe transition between a monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) and a waveguide has been designed for operation at frequency of 340 GHz and to be fabricated as part of a monolithic unit that includes the MMIC. Integrated radial probe transitions like this one are expected to be essential components of future MMIC amplifiers operating at frequencies above 200 GHz. While MMIC amplifiers for this frequency range have not yet been widely used because they have only recently been developed, there are numerous potential applications for them — especially in scientific instruments, test equipment, radar, and millimeter- wave imaging systems for detecting hidden weapons.

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