Measuring Progress
In Sharing, There is Learning: The 87th ARFTG Conference

In Sharing, There is Learning: The 87th ARFTG Conference

ARFTGThousands in this industry are busy preparing for one of the key events coming this May, the IEEE International Microwave Symposium, scheduled for May 22-27, 2016 at San Francisco’s famed Moscone Center. The event features a well-packed exhibition hall and a technical conference with presentations on some of the latest and most innovative technological advances.

Not to be overlooked during this full week of activity is one of this industry’s best learning opportunities for engineers involved with test and measurement: the 87th Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG) Measurement Conference. Scheduled for Friday, May 27, this particular measurement conference will focus on exploring the expected measurements for emerging communications technologies.

Of course, some of the emerging communications “standards,” such as Fifth-Generation (5G) cellular communications, are still on the drawing board and will not be set in stone for several years. But some of the expected uses of high-frequency components—e.g., for millimeter-wave links at 60 and 70 GHz—will provide measurement challenges with solutions that are useful at present, and can be applied to the characterization of components and systems used in present-day millimeter-wave applications.

Technical presentations at this 87th ARFTG are representative of those many current millimeter-wave and even terahertz-frequency concerns. Notable examples include a presenter from Japan providing insights into the effects of waveguide-flange connection torque on measurements at millimeter-wave and terahertz frequencies, and researchers from Korea examining the uncertainties associated with measurements involving waveguide shims at millimeter-wave frequencies.

The 87th ARFTG features a full lineup of excellent technical presentations on test (available for preview at the conference's website). Many of these technical talks are from users involved with future-looking requirements, such as on-wafer characterization of millimeter-wave transistors and integrated circuits (ICs).

Researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara, for example, offer results from their passive on-wave load-pull system for characterizing high-power GaN devices at frequencies through 94 GHz, showing the capability to measure devices with power density of 4.1 W/mm at that test frequency. Additional presentations cover measurements from RF through optical wavelengths.

ARFTG has long provided an excellent “classroom” for designers and users of test equipment concerned with making the best use of their equipment or finding optimum ways to make measurements. The group consists of representatives from some of the top test-and-measurement equipment suppliers in the RF/microwave industry: Mention a company name, and without a doubt, someone from that firm will be in attendance. As indicated from the technical paper presenters, ARFTG is also attended by some of the highest-level users of test equipment, at top R & D facilities around the world.

Most importantly, ARFTG is more than just a one-day conference on test. It is a social gathering where representatives from different test-and-measurement companies are no longer competitors, but associates. It is a place where engineers from Keysight Technologies, Anritsu Company, National Instruments, and Rohde & Schwarz can share stories about applications for vector network analyzers (VNAs) and how they were able to solve a customer’s most challenging problems.

It is also a chance for them to compare notes on future challenges, such as performing cost-effect measurements at millimeter-wave or even terahertz frequencies so that 5G products can incorporate these technologies without requiring the cost of a second mortgage.

The 2016 IMS is certainly one of this industry’s key annual technical events. And for those involved with making measurements, ARFTG is one of the most important parts of the IMS, and a day well spent.

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