An active frequency doubler in the form of an InP-based monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) containing a high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) has been demonstrated in operation at output frequencies in the vicinity of 300 GHz. This is the highest frequency HEMT doubler reported to date, the next highest frequency active HEMT doubler having been previously reported to operate at 180 GHz. While the output power of this frequency doubler is less than that of a typical Schottky diode, this frequency doubler is considered an intermediate product of a continuing effort to realize the potential of active HEMT frequency doublers to operate with conversion efficiencies greater than those of passive diode frequency doublers. An additional incentive for developing active HEMT frequency doublers lies in the fact that they can be integrated with amplifiers, oscillators, and other circuitry on MMIC chips.

Figure 1. This MMIC embodies an active frequency doubler rated for a nominal output frequency of about 300 GHz

The circuitry of the doubler MMIC (see Figure 1) features grounded coplanar waveguides. Air bridges and vias are used to make contact with the ground plane. The HEMT is biased for Class-A operation (in which current is conducted throughout each cycle of oscillation), which would ordinarily be better suited to linear amplification than to frequency doubling. Ordinarily, class-B operation (in which current is conducted during about half of each cycle of oscillation) would be more suitable for frequency doubling because of the essential nonlinearity of partial-cycle conduction. The reason for the unusual choice of class A was that computational simulations had shown that in this case, the efficiency in class B would be less than in class A.

The input matching circuit of this doubler includes transmission lines that afford a good impedance match at the fundamental frequency, plus an open stub to prevent leakage of the second harmonic through the input terminals. The output circuit was designed to suppress the fundamental while providing a good match for the second harmonic.

Figure 2. The Output Power of the MMIC of Figure 1 was measured at several output frequencies from 280 to 316 GHz.

In a test, this doubler was driven by an input signal at frequencies from 140 to 158 GHz and its output at the corresponding second-harmonic frequencies of 280 to 316 GHz was measured by means of a power meter connected to the MMIC via waveguide wafer probes and a high-pass (fundamental-suppressing) waveguide. The results of this test are summarized in Figure 2.

This work was done by Lorene Samoska and Jean Bruston of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Semiconductors & ICs category.


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Document cover
HEMT Frequency Doubler With Output at 300 GHz

(reference NPO-30581) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

Don't have an account? Sign up here.