When the 15thEuropean Microwave Week tookplace at the RAI Conference Centre from the Oct 28 - Nov 1, it marked four years since the Week last visited the canal city of Amsterdam. Read Richard Mumford's summary of the show in this article and David Vye's account of the show here. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and the academics, industry members and delegates who participated in and attended this year have had to adapt and adjust to current realities. However, EuMW 2012 endeavoured to bring the RF and microwave community together to highlight the technology and activity that is driving the sector forward.

The theme of the Week was Space for Microwaves and the three conferences: The European Microwave Conference (EuMC), European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference (EuMIC) and the European Radar Conference (EuRAD), together with the European Microwave Exhibition made space to accommodate a broad range of subjects, from semiconductors and nanotechnology through to wireless and radar systems, together with the test equipment and software needed to design and implement them. Also, taking advantage of the local proximity of ESA/ESTEC, the Week focused on ‘Microwaves for Space’, with special emphasis being given to space applications.

Although the conference and exhibition are the mainstays of the Week new initiatives are continually being added and developed. This year special sessions focused on hot topics and expanded the global reach beyond Europe to the Asia-Pacific and the wider Asian microwave community. Special events highlighted the evolution of Defence, Security and Space and the importance of supporting students and post-graduates by offering challenges and instruction aimed at encouraging them in their careers.

Canal boats and bicycles are the modes of transport traditionally associated with Amsterdam but it was fast cars that were a novel focus of attention at the European Microwave Exhibition – demonstrating that the exhibition is driving innovation. All of the cars were equipped with different 24 GHz, as well as 77 GHz radar sensors. A very short drive from the cars in Hall 3 was the MicroApps Auditorium, where, following its successful introduction in Manchester in 2011, the European Microwave Week Microwave Application Seminars (MicroApps) were held.

As regular visitors will know, the exhibition has developed to be much more than just a ‘show floor’ with the Cyber Café, Poster Sessions, conference coffee breaks and even a TNO sponsored Waffle Bar offering something extra. However, it was the RF and microwave companies large and small, established and embryonic, and from all corners of the globe that were the main attraction and focus of attention. There were around 250 exhibiting companies, taking up more than 7,000 m2 (gross), many of whom launched new and significant products. Below is a selection of the new and innovative products on show.

Below are some International/European company hightlights:

The FieldFox handheld microwave analyzers were a major attraction for Agilent Technologies. Fourteen new models deliver bench top accuracy and MIL-spec durability for on-the-go applications such as full two-port S-parameters, return loss, VSWR and spectrum-interference monitoring at 26.5 GHz. The compact 3.0 kg, FieldFox can be configured for cable-and-antenna analysis, spectrum analysis, vector network analysis, or all-in-one capability with frequency coverage from 4, 6.5, 9, 14, 18 or 26.5 GHz. To ensure durability in harsh field environments, the completely sealed enclosure is compliant with U.S. MIL-PRF-28800F Class 2 requirements.

The company also demonstrated its newest 3-D EM software release. EMPro 2012 makes it easy for designers to create 3-D models and analyze the electrical performance of packages, connectors, antennas, and other RF and high-speed components. It features integration with Agilent's Advanced Design System software, as well as several simulator enhancements to improve performance and accelerate product development. The increased level of integration with ADS is based on a shared database approach.

A series of demonstrations showed engineers: How to measure linear and nonlinear measurements from RF to millimetre-wave with a single instrument using Agilent's PNA-X vector network analyzer; how to enable true performance with the X-Series of signal generators and analyzers; how to take full advantage of the fast PXI vector signal generator, the Agilent M9381A; and how to harness the power of the company’s AXIe instruments with cutting-edge solutions in a flexible and compact form factor.

To support EuMW’s Space for Microwaves theme, the highlights at the Anritsu booth included the newly released capabilities for the ME7838A VectorStar VNA test system, including 4-port test solutions and 500 GHz capability extensions, and the wide band (125 GHz) Noise Figure measurement capability for the MS4640A Vector Network Analyser.

The ME7838A demonstrations let visitors see the performance benefits of the ultra-compact and high performance measurement head which the company claims offers industry leading capability in measurement speed, frequency span, and measurement stability and can be mounted directly onto a smaller probe station. The MS4640A Vector Network Analyser is the latest in the ‘Master’ series of handheld field test solutions. With spectrum analysis up to 43 GHz, Vector Network Analyser up to 20 GHz, and a full range of cable and antenna test options, the Master series satisfies the toughest and most demanding field test requirements.

For bench-top use in laboratories and R&D, the MS2830A Spectrum Analyser demonstrated the dynamic range and sensitivity available on this platform, with capability up to 43 GHz. The instrument also combines both the Vector Signal Generator and Vector Signal Analyser options into a single chassis.

Computer Simulation Technology (CST) previewed the CST STUDIO SUITE 2013 and its new design environment. The continuously extended feature set in CST STUDIO SUITE® has resulted in an impressive number of settings and options for the engineer to choose from. CST STUDIO SUITE 2013 has undergone a major redesign in order to escort the engineer on his/her way through his simulation projects.

A project wizard helps set-up the software to meet a particular application type’s requirements and provide the relevant results. This configuration can be modified by the user based on the experience gathered on-site to deal with the specific application characteristics. The modified configuration can be stored and reused. A significant change in the user interface is the introduction of the Ribbon. The Ribbon, as implemented in CST STUDIO SUITE, not only groups features and menus, it also guides the engineer through the simulation process, only showing the currently active or relevant options. The performance improvements in CST STUDIO SUITE stretch over the entire range of solvers. The CST MICROWAVE STUDIO® transient solver, for example, benefits from a quicker matrix set-up, the solver runs faster employing the latest Intel® technology, and is able to deal with larger problems.

Huber + Suhner demonstrated the next step in the roadmap of the SUCOFLEX 400 cable family, with the introduction of the new 18 GHz cable assembly versions of the SUCOLFEX 406 and 406D (look for a product feature in our Nov issue), which cover the upper limit of the diameters for very low loss cables in this class. A new dielectric process technology, similar to the SUCOFLEX 404, significantly improves the electrical properties of the product. Further highlights are its excellent return loss properties and the good phase stability versus bending.  The extruded and extended ultra low density PTFE dielectric is responsible for the loss performance of SUCOFLEX 400 products. With a dielectric constant of er 1.26, the SUCOFLEX 406 is claimed to deliver the lowest insertion loss currently available in its class.

Microwave Innovation Group (MiG) highlighted its new WASP-NET version 9 CAD technology, providing efficiency and flexibility. A new graphic 3D editor for user-defined structures enables users to combine full 3D flexibility with the solver’s proven high calculation speed. Desired geometry dimensions are parametrized for fast optimizations; lossy materials as well as dielectric and ferrite materials with frequency de pendent tensor permittivity/permeability. A new 3D CAD data import feature allows convenient import of components or component parts in the form of standard CAD data formats and their full or deconstructed inclusion as appropriate sub-parts. New fast integral equation (IE) solvers perform high CAD operations for complex antenna structures, such as shaped dual-reflector antennas including feed-networks, antenna arrays, antennas with struts and layered, lossy radomes, reflect-arrays, as well as radar cross-section (RCS) investigations of large systems.

NXP Semiconductors introduced two 5 V wideband IQ modulator devices that combine high dynamic range with fast on/off switching performance for use in radio frequency up-conversion. Operating between 400 MHz and 4 GHz, the BGX7100 and BGX7101 consume less than 1 W power. Because RF performance is independent of input common mode voltage, these modulators offer flexible interfacing with any DAC, simplifying design-in, and lowering the bill of materials. Applications of the rugged BGX710x series are in wireless infrastructure base stations, and repeaters for standards such as GSM, W-CDMA, TD-SCDMA and LTE, as well as in point-to-point systems. The main difference between the two NXP IQ modulators is in output power: 0 dBm for BGX7100HN, and 4 dBm for BGX7101HN, providing solutions for infrastructure cell sizes ranging from small to macro. As well as the high dynamic range and low noise floor, the devices excel in monotonic IP3o behaviour versus frequency, in the lowest unadjusted carrier feedthrough (-50 dBm at -7 dBm output power @ 1960 MHz) and in the highest unadjusted sideband suppression on the market (45 dBc at -7 dBm output power @ 1960 MHz).

The company also announced that it has developed the industry’s first ultra wideband solution for Doherty architectures. This patent-pending solution will enable manufacturers of digital transmitters to enjoy the high-efficiency gains that Doherty power amplifiers confer with greatly expanded bandwidth. NXP has developed an innovative solution, creating a new Doherty architecture capable of operating over an ultra wideband spectrum without an increase in the bill of materials.

OMMIC announced sampling of a new chipset for sensing, jamming and electronic counter measure applications in the 6 to 18 GHz band. For the first time the new chipset includes True Time Delay devices that enable improvements in system performance compared to conventional phase shifting functions. The chipset includes TTD, phase shift & attenuation, low noise & power amplifiers: The OMM9107 is an LNA with a noise figure of 3.3dB and gain flatness of better than +/-0.5 dB across the 6 to 18 GHz band. The OMM9207 is a SPDT switch with insertion loss better than 1.5 dB and isolation better than 50 dB. The OMM9208 is a 3 bit programmable attenuator with insertion loss of 2.2 dB and attenuation range of 35 dB. It has a low RMS attenuation error of 0.2 dB. The OMM9209 is a programmable attenuator with 6 bit control of a 31.5 dB attenuation range and insertion loss of 4 dB with RMS attenuation error of 0.2 dB. The OMM9210 is a wideband phase shifter with a phase range of 360° with 6 bit control, an RMS phase error of 1.7° and RMS amplitude error as low as 0.45 dB. The OMM9211 is a True Time Delay MMIC with insertion loss better than 7 dB and 5 bit control of a delay range of 320 ps in 10 ps steps. RMS delay error is better than 2ps. The OMM9212 is a 1bit True Time Delay device switching in a delay of 320 ps. Insertion Loss is better than 6 dB and Input P1dB better than 9.5 dBm. Finally, the OMM9505 is a wideband power amplifier with a gain of 25 dB. At Psat of >30dBm, the device consumes 1.2 A from a 4.5 V supply.

Rohde & Schwarz showed the high-end R&S FSW43 signal and spectrum analyzer with a frequency range of 2 Hz to 43 GHz for the first time. The R&S FSW43 combines impressive RF performance and measurement speed with simple touch screen operation. The analyzer simplifies complex measurement tasks in satellite communications and radar applications. Its integrated multi-standard radio analyzer function helps design engineers analyze multi-standard signals. The MSRA mode enables users to measure spectrum and modulation parameters of differently modulated signals, including their time references. This feature makes it easy to analyze whether signals are influencing or interfering with each other.

The compact, 1 HU, ½ 19" R&S SGS100A is the latest model of the smallest vector generator on the market. The generator now also covers I/Q modulation throughout the entire 80 MHz to 12.75 GHz range. It offers the same RF performance as the 6 GHz module, including the high standard output power of up to +22 dBm over the entire frequency range. It has been designed specifically for the ATE market and test setups requiring multiple signal sources. In combination with an external I/Q baseband source such as the R&S AFQ100B, the R&S SGS100A is ideal for generating test signals for radar applications and satellite communications systems up to 12.75 GHz.

Another innovation is the R&S ZVA-K31 option for the R&S ZVA and R&S ZVT vector network analyzers. This option enables noise figure measurements on frequency-converting DUTs up to 67 GHz, such as modules used in the automotive industry, RF chips used in wireless communications, or amplifiers, mixers and receivers used in satellite and radar technology. In development and production, users can measure the noise factor with a high degree of accuracy thanks to the level and port matching correction as well as various detectors that determine the signal and noise power without using a noise source.

Rosenberger featured high performance solderless PCB Launch Connectors that are designed to provide low return loss up to 110 GHz for single-layer or multi-layer printed circuit boards where the microwave layer is on the top. They are suitable for high frequency chip set evaluation, demo boards, test fixtures and board characterization. They are available in: RPC-2.92 (40 GHz), RPC-1.85 (70 GHz) and RPC-1.00 (110 GHz). No soldering is required and positioning is by dowel pins.

The company also showcased an RF Training Kit offering microwave engineering standards with laboratory exercises that is suitable for the beginner up to intermediate level. The standards include: Coaxial cables with different inner conductor structures and PTFE beads for experiments with inductive and capacitive discontinuities, microstrip lines with thrus, stubs, transformers and couplers to investigate the impact of losses, reflections and coupling, guided laboratory exercise documentation covering the basic concepts of electromagnetism and guided laboratory exercises for frequency/time domain measurements. Question sets focus on building the user‘s knowledge on microwave engineering topics and includes HFSS simulation results and 3D field animations.

SPINNERshowcased its Open, Short, Load, Through (OSLT) calibration kits that are configured for an extended frequency range and expand the company’s test and measurement portfolio. These 4-in-1 kits are developed for frequency ranges from DC to 18 GHz (BN 533879, BN 533880) and DC to 26.5 GHz (BN 533881, BN 533882). This upgrade guarantees optimized calibration accuracy of vector network analyzers (VNA) and enables the product range to address the emerging trend for handheld devices that can be used at higher frequencies. The product line of compact calibration kits combines all standards needed in one cleverly designed body.

The company also demonstrated its selection of rotary joints, including the new Hybrid Rotary Joint. Modern radar systems need an exceptionally wide range of transmission technologies for the requirements on the antenna. The hybrid rotary joint addresses these issues by designating a combination of the classic rotary joint with at least one additional transmission technology such as, Ethernet, non-contact energy transmission, medium or optic. A combination of these transmission technologies even without the classic RF section is called a hybrid rotary joint.

Read David Vye's account of the show here covering many other companies that are not mentioned here.