Reconfigurable and Wideband Receiver Components for System-on-Chip Millimetre-Wave Radiometer Front-Ends

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This thesis presents solutions and studies related to the design of reconfigurable and wideband receiver circuits for system-on-chip (SoC) radiometer front-ends within the millimetre-wave (mm-wave) range. Whereas many of today’s mm-wave front-ends are bulky and costly due to having discrete RF components, single-chip receiver modules could potentially result in a wider use for emerging applications such as wireless communication, short range radar and passive imaging security sensors if realised with adequate performances and at a lower cost. Three main topics are considered in this thesis, monolithic integration of low-loss RF-MEMS (Dicke) switch networks and switched LNAs in MMIC/RFIC foundry processes, designs of SiGe wideband (IF) amplifier and broadband power detectors up to W-band (75-110 GHz).Low-loss and high isolation GaAs and SiGe RF-MEMS switch networks were designed and characterised for the 30-110 GHz range. A GaAs MEMS Dicke switch network has a measured minimum loss of 1 dB and maximum isolation of 19 dB at 70-96 GHz, respectively, making it a potential candidate in Dicke switched radiometer receivers. Furthermore, single-chip 30 GHz and W-band MEMS Dicke switched LNA designs have been realised for the first time in SiGe BiCMOS and GaAs mHEMT processes, respectively.For a targeted 94 GHz passive imaging application two different receiver topologies have been investigated based on direct-detection and direct-conversion (heterodyne) architectures. An optimised detector design fabricated in a 0.13 ?m SiGe process achieves a more wideband input matching than earlier silicon W-band detectors and is competitive with reported III-V W-band detectors in terms of a higher responsivity and similar NEP.A SiGe 2-37 GHz high-gain differential (IF) amplifier design achieves a more wideband matching and an order of magnitude higher linearity than a recent single-ended SiGe LNA. The SiGe IF amplifier was integrated on-chip with a power detector in a 5-35 GHz IF section. Their broadband properties compared with other IF amplifier/detector RFICs, make them suitable for W-band down-conversion receivers with a larger pre-detection bandwidth and improved sensitivity. The experimental results successfully demonstrate the feasibility of the SiGe 5-35 GHz IF section for high performance SoC W-band radiometers using a more wideband heterodyne receiver architecture.