Charm City Champions Microwaves For The World

May 18, 2011
Microwave Weeks IMS conference, sub-conferences, and exhibitions will soon descend upon Baltimore, giving industry members

THE MUST-ATTEND MICROWAVE EVENT OF THE YEAR IS FAST APPROACHING. This year, the IEEE Microwaves Theory & Techniques Society (MTT-S) International Microwave Symposium (IMS) is being held in Baltimore, MD. IMS, a combination of exhibition hall, workshops, and technical sessions, is the focal point of Microwave Week. But Microwave Week also includes the Radio-Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) Symposium and the Automatic Radio-Frequency Techniques Group (ARFTG) Conference (see "Don't Overlook The Other Microwave Week Offerings"). This year, Microwave Week is scheduled for June 5 to 10. The society notes that Baltimore hosted the IMS in both 1986 and 1998 with record attendance each time. Hopefully that trend continues this year, as attendees flock to Charm City to meet up with old friends, hear about cutting-edge technology and issues in the paper and panel sessions, and walk an exhibition floor showing the latest product developments.

With a theme of "Microwaves for the World," the conference portion of IMS 2011 will cover recent developments ranging from nanodevices to system applications. The past also will be honored through a historical exhibit (see "Get A Close Look At The Industry's Past"). The conference opens with a plenary session on Monday night by Professor J. David Rhodes. His talk on the "Migration of WCDMA and 4G LTE into Existing Cellular Bands" will focus on the need to create combiners for new and existing base stations to use the same antenna structure. Some interesting panels also are scheduled for the technical program. On Wednesday, panelists will argue whether the commercial viability of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is reality or a dream. And Thursday's panelists will offer their thoughts and opinions on the topic, "Microwave Photonics: A Growing or Shrinking Value Proposition?"

Tuesday will offer a focus on high-field magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI) systems as well as a rump session on microwave R&D funding policy and trends. On Wednesday, a special session celebrating 100 years of superconductivity will provide an overview of both existing and emerging RF applications. Among the other sessions is a "Retrospective and Outlook of Computational Microwave Engineering," which will assess the state of the art in time-domain modeling while retracing its evolution over the past 30 years.

Student Happenings
As IMS honors the past, it also looks forward to the future with the student program. This year, the MTT Society is introducing the Graduate Student Challenge. It is open to all PhD and MS students who are registered at IMS. The seven hardware competitions cover the Power Amplifier, ASH Receiver, Low-Noise Amplifier, Packaged Triplexer, Wideband Balun, Software Defined Radio, and Optical-to-Microwave Converter.

The student paper competition is now among the largest technical events at IMS. For 2011, 205 papers were received from studentsor about 24% of the total. Only 25 student papers were selected as finalists. A paper from Purdue University introduces a "Bandwidth-Optimal Single-Tunable-Element Matching Network for Antenna Tuning in Mobile Handsets." Researchers from Texas A&M University are presenting "A Novel Approach for Dielectric Constant Measurement Using Microwave Oscillators." A team at Cardiff University has found a way to improve linearity in RF power-amplifier (PA) systems. Among the other entrants are a number that focus on filters: "Miniaturized UWB Bandpass Filters Integrated with Notch Filters Using a Si-based Integrated Passive Device Technology," "A 7.45 GHz BAW Filter on a 3D Low Cost Organic Package," "A Novel MEMS-Based Tunable Dielectric Resonator Filter," "Prototype Network Synthesis for Wideband Microwave Filters," and "A Novel Compact Dual- Band Half-Mode Substrate Integrated Waveguide Bandpass Filter."

Filters and other passive components always dominate the show floor, and this year is no different. Among its product introductions, for example, Networks International Corp. (NIC) will be showing a 7-GHz temperature-compensated cavity filter. It has a bandwidth of 0.5% with stability over temperature as low as 1 ppm. Among other passive-components making news, Passive Plus, Inc. will be showing its Hi-Q/Low-ESR capacitors (Q > 10,000)/Extended Working Voltage. They come in six traditional case sizes ranging from 0.55 x 0.55 in. to 0.760 to 0.760 in. (10,000 WVDC). At Gowanda Electronics, the "C" series of conical inductors include standard flying lead and SMT designs with power capability to 150 W from 40 MHz to 40 GHz.

The latest chip resistors from State of the Art, Inc. (SOTA), dubbed the miniature Z termination line, offer tolerances as tight as 0.1%. Power ratings span 50 to 1500 mW with temperature coefficients of resistance (TCR) as low as 25 ppm. At less than 40 g, the DMU310X broadband, unequal, three-way power divider from TRM Microwave exhibits insertion loss to 0.7 dB with isolation beyond 18 dB. And a new 90-deg., quadrature hybrid coupler from KRYTAR, Inc. covers 1.7 to 36.0 GHz with less than 3.2 dB insertion loss.

In the amplifier space, Skyworks, Inc. will be introducing a general-purpose low-noise amplifier (LNA) for wireless applications from 1.5 to 3.0 GHz. The SKY67014-396LF is the first of three new LNAs targeting battery-powered receiver applications in the 450-, 900-, and 2400-MHz industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) bands. It flaunts noise figure of less than 1.0 dB with 12 dB gain.

Targeting defense applications, Spectrum Microwave has continued adding to its line of S.M.A.R.T. PAs. With a 20-to-800- MHz, 50-W design, the QBS-559 offers 45 dB linear gain. Designed for +21 to +30 VDC, it produces 50 W at 5.1 A and +28 VDC. Its sibling, the QBS-560, covers 800 to 2500 MHz. Both PAs feature active biasing to enhance efficiency under various load mismatch conditions.

CTT, Inc. is debuting a compact, solid-state power amplifier (SSPA) operating from 6.0 to 18.0 GHz. This GaN-based monolithic-microwave-integrated- circuit (MMIC) design offers 40 W output power. It provides at least 46 dB gain (2.5 dB) and 8-dB noise figure.

UK-based TMD Technologies will be displaying a range of traveling-wave tubes (TWTs), power supplies, and microwave power modules (MPMs). The firm offers both pulsed and continuous-wave (CW) MPMs. The PT6789 TWT, for example, can produce peak power as high as 1000 W pulsed power at Ku-band.

At the Integra Technologies booth, attendees will be able to check out the firm's LDMOS S-band radar. The 50-O, ILP2731M260 S-band radar pallet amplifier supplies at least 260 W peak pulse power with 300 s pulse width and 10% duty cycle from 2.70 to 3.10 GHz. In addition, the ILD3135M180 transistor targets applications over a 3.1-to-3.5-GHz instantaneous frequency band.

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On the assembly end, Narda Microwave will exhibit its Integrated Microwave Assembly (IMA) products covering a total range of DC to 60 GHz. These products leverage the firm's proprietary, microwave-multilayer-circuit (MMC) technology coupled with digital signal processing (DSP). Embedded microprocessors and field-programmable-gate-array (FPGA) devices allow adaptive adjustments that compensate for system dynamics and environmental extremes.

An integrated approach for switches is available from American Microwave Corp. (AMC). By combining microwave IC technology with a solid-state switch matrix, it has created a hybrid switch matrix on a single substrate. AMC is able to design for SMT production various configurations of RF/microwave switches with custom driver/logic circuitry and mechanical requirements.

Cables and connectors continue to have a strong presence on the show floor. W.L. Gore & Associates, for example, will be showing its expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) cables (Fig. 1). Crystek plans to show its CC-SS402 18-GHz, silver-plated copper cable, with attenuation of 0.66 dB/ ft. at 18 GHz. The company also supports a full line of passivated stainless-steel RF connectors.

Using advanced manufacturing techniques for both the board-mounted connector and the micro-coaxial cable, Murata Electronics North America has readied a micro-coaxial connector with a maximum profile of 1.0 mm. The JSC series comprises a board-mounted receptacle (MM5829- 2700), which mates with an 0.81-mm-diameter RF cable (MXJA01xxxxxx). The connector and cable structure, which is designed to withstand up to 30 mating cycles, performs to 12 GHz.

Beyond the cables and components, many semiconductor providers will be showing their wares. Freescale, for example, will be showing a pair of recently announced RF power LDMOS transistors that enable wireless base-station amplifiers to cover all of the channels in an entire allocated frequency band by means of instantaneous bandwidths to 160 MHz.

To enable tunable matching networks, Peregrine Semiconductor is unveiling its DuNE Digitally Tunable Capacitors (DTCs; Fig. 2). The PE64904 (serial peripheral interface ) and PE64905 (I2C) DTCs are solid-state, digitally controlled variable capacitors with a range of 1.05 to 5.1 pF with a step size of 131 fF. They are usable from 100 MHz to 3 GHz.

To show off its latest breakthroughs, NXP Semiconductors will have a complete base-station-radio set up at its booth. In addition, a silicon-germanium:carbide (SiGe:C) technology demonstration will feature multiple building blocks that provide solutions for leading-edge applications. Also on hand will be the company's latest "unbreakable" LDMOS RF power transistors for ISM applications, GaN products, and more.

Analog Devices will be highlighting a family of intermediate-frequency (IF)/RF variable-gain amplifiers (VGAs) that combine up to four discrete RF/IF blocks into a single device. The ADL5201 and ADL5202 cover IFs to 400 MHz while providing an output thirdorder intercept point beyond +47 dBm and noise figure of 6 dB.

Targeting machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, RFM offers the WLS-series of WiFi and WiFi + Bluetooth combination modules. The WLS1270, WLS1271, and WLS1273 modules include WiFi and Bluetooth technology in a single system-on-a-chip (SoC) together with an efficient RF front-end circuit and a DCDC converter. The WLS1270, for example, is IEEE 802.11b/g and 802.11n compliant. The module handles data rates to 65 Mb/s over 2.412 to 2.484 GHz (Fig. 3).

As is true every year, some impressive product launches are planned for the test and measurement arena. Rohde & Schwarz, for example, will debut the R&S FSVR family (Fig. 4). This real-time spectrum analyzer combines the functions of an all-purpose signal and spectrum analyzer with a realtime spectrum analyzer (RSA). In real-time mode, it promises to detect everything from sporadic events to ultra-short signals. By providing measurement without blind times, it vows to benefit developers of RF components for commercial transmission systems like LTE, WiMAX, WLAN, Bluetooth, and RFID. The analyzer also targets general RF applications, such as radar and frequency-hopping transmission.

In the millimeter range, it is difficult to make decent spectrum and other signal measurements. To aid this process, Agilent Technologies has created the PXA signal analyzer (Fig. 5). Covering 3 Hz to 50 GHz, it can be extended to 325 GHz and beyond with external mixing. Using a low-noise signal path, the PXA is able to realize a displayed average noise level (DANL) of 138 dBm at 50 GHz. By utilizing noise-floor-extension (NFE) techniques, it can improve DANL another 6 dBm.

The PXIe-5665 3.6-GHz RF vector signal analyzer (VSA) from National Instruments vows to deliver solid RF performance in a cost-effective PXI form factor (see "PXI-Based VSA Scrutinizes 3.6 GHz"). For its part, Anritsu Co. will be showcasing the MG3690C series of broadband signal generators. They produce signals from audio through microwave frequencies from 0.1 Hz to 70 GHz at a single coaxial output. The generators can cover to 325 GHz or beyond with external multipliers (Fig. 6). The company also will be showing the eco-friendly MS2830A signal analyzers, VectorStar VNA family, and VNA Master handheld vector network analyzers.

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New to Tektronix are the RSA5000 series signal analyzers, which promise to raise the price-performance bar for mid-range signal analyzers. According to the firm, the instruments offer more than twice the currently available acquisition bandwidth of RSAs with superior real-time capabilities. The firm also will highlight its AWG7000C and AWG5000C series of arbitrary waveform generators (AWGs), which claim to provide a 45% reduction in waveform creation times compared to prior AWG instruments.

Among the products being shown at the Giga-tronics booth will be the ASCOR Common-Corebased signal switching solutions. The Series 8800 family provides a modular RF/ LF/DC switching platform that is scalable and reconfigurable to meet existing and emerging test requirements from DC to 50 GHz. The standard Series 8800 has 12 switch modules that can be equipped with various relay configurations.

IMS always sees the launch of new software versions or revisions. At the ANSYS booth, for instance, finite-array analysis with domain decomposition will be previewed for High Frequency Structure Simulator (HFSS). This HPC parallel-computing technique leverages the domain-decomposition solver introduced in HFSS 12 to efficiently set up and analyze large, finite-sized antenna arrays (Fig. 7). The user simply draws the unit cell geometry of a repeating array element, defines the size and shape of the array and the solution setup, and solves. In addition, ANSYS HFSS 12.1 introduces a new 3D Method of Moments (MoM) and Integral Equations (IE) solution for full-wave EM analysis called HFSS-IE.

With the upcoming Sonnet Suites Release 13 from Sonnet Software, the firm furthers its mission to drive EM simulation forward without sacrificing accuracy. This release boasts up to 3X faster analysis for large circuits, efficient micro-via array meshing, and smoother integration to Sonnet's high-frequency EDA framework partners. Entry-level EM software suites have been revamped to double the allowed memory from previous releases. With the new SonnetLab toolbox for MATLAB, users can incorporate Sonnet's simulation tools in a popular design environment. Once again, Sonnet will be offering in-booth, 20-minute, hands-on training classes at IMS featuring its latest software release.

AWR Corp. will be providing a sneak peek at its new three-dimensional (3D) finite-element-method (FEM) EM analysis technology. It will be showing the 2011 release of Microwave Office, Visual System Simulator, and AXIEM. Special emphasis will be given to Microwave Office's new electrical- thermal MMIC co-simulation design flow, simulation-state management technology, and yield analysis/optimization via a graphical-shape-based manipulation approach. Attendees also can check out Visual System Simulator's envelope simulator and AXIEM's asynchronous EM simulation support.

These products are just a tiny portion of the impressive launches at this year's IMS. For good examples of the depth of products offered by this industry, visit the booth of a distributor like RFMW Ltd. It will be showing examples of how it can serve customers from the antenna through the baseband. For those who can't make it to Baltimore, don't miss our product and show announcements in July and August, and our special IMS Show Wrapup report in August.

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