This technology is applicable as a power combiner for solid-state power amplifiers (SSPAs) with unequal and arbitrary power output ratios.

The design, simulation, and characterization of a novel Ka-band (32.05±0.25 GHz) rectangular waveguide two-way branch-line hybrid unequal power combiner (with port impedances matched to that of a standard WR-28 waveguide) has been created to combine input signals, which are in phase and with an amplitude ratio of two. The measured return loss and isolation of the branch-line hybrid are better than 22 and 27 dB, respectively. The measured combining efficiency is 92.9 percent at the center frequency of 32.05 GHz. This circuit is efficacious in combining the unequal output power from two Ka-band GaAs pseudomorphic high electron mobility transistor (pHEMT) monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) power amplifiers (PAs) with high efficiency.

The fabricated Two-Way Ka-Band Branch-Line Hybrid Unequal Power Combiner in E-plane split block arrangement. The dimensions of the assembled combiner are 1.8×1.2×1 in. (≈4.7×3.0×2.5 cm).
The component parts include the branch-line hybrid-based power combiner and the MMIC-based PAs. A two-waybranch-line hybrid is a four-port device with all ports matched; power entering port 1 is divided in phase, and into the ratio 2:1 between ports 3 and 4. No power is coupled to port 2.

MMICs are a type of integrated circuit fabricated on GaAs that operates at microwave frequencies, and performs the function of signal amplification. The power combiner is designed to operate over the frequency band of 31.8 to 32.3 GHz, which is NASA’s deep space frequency band. The power combiner would have an output return loss better than 20 dB. Isolation between the output port and the isolated port is greater than 25 dB. Isolation between the two input ports is greater than 25 dB. The combining efficiency would be greater than 90 percent when the ratio of the two input power levels is two. The power combiner is machined from aluminum with E-plane split-block arrangement, and has excellent reliability.

The flexibility of this design allows the combiner to be customized for combining the power from MMIC PAs with an arbitrary power output ratio. In addition, it allows combining a low-power GaAs MMIC with a high-power GaN MMIC. The arbitrary port impedance allows matching the output impedance of the MMIC PA directly to the waveguide impedance without transitioning first into a transmission line with characteristic impedance of 50 ohms. Thus, by eliminating the losses associated with a transition, the overall SSPA efficiency is enhanced.

For reducing the cost and weight when required in very large quantities, such as in the beam-forming networks of phased-array antenna systems, the combiner can be manufactured using metal-plated plastic. Two hybrid unequal power combiners can be cascaded to realize a non-binary combiner (for e.g., a three-way) and can be synergistically optimized for low VSWR (voltage standing wave ratio), low insertion loss, high isolation, and wide bandwidth using commercial off-the-shelf electromagnetic software design tools.

This work was done by Rainee N. Simons, Christine T. Chevalier, Edwin G. Wintucky, and Jon C. Freeman of Glenn Research Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Semiconductors & ICs category.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW 18473-1.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).

Ka-Band Waveguide Two-Way Hybrid Combiner for MMIC Amplifiers (reference LEW-18473-1) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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