Microwave Journal

Focus on EuMIC and an Overview of Microwave MMIC/RFIC Development

By Herbert Zirath, European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference 2008 Chairman

October 17, 2008

We will be very pleased to welcome you to the EuMIC 2008 in Amsterdam. The conference is chaired this year by Herbert Zirath, John Long and Frank van Vliet. The conference is being held under the umbrella of both the European Microwave Association and GAAS® Association. This year, we are pleased to offer an outstanding technical programme with four plenary presentations and more than 100 technical papers. The papers are distributed over more than 24 sessions, all scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of European Microwave Week. During the rest of the week there will be eight workshops and one short course. A significant number of sessions and workshops are planned as joint sessions with the European Microwave Conference (EuMC) and the European Wireless Technology (EuWiT) Conference, indicating the strong interaction between these conferences.

Be sure not to miss our eminent plenary speakers, Dr. Memmet Souyer from IBM, Dr. Thijs de Graauw from SRON, Professor Gabriel Rebeiz from UCSD and Dr. Bill Deal from Northrop Grumman. The plenary invited talks reflect the state-of-the-art in different areas; Dr. Souyer will share the latest SiGe-development for integrated microwave circuits, Dr. de Graauw will present the status of the European Space instrument, HIFI, for space research, Professor Rebeiz will share the recent development of SiGe and CMOS-based phased arrays up to 60 GHz at UCSD, and Dr. Deal with present the latest results from the new 1 THz fmax InP HEMT device and circuits.

This year we have particularly emphasized a programme that should be equally interesting for both industry and academia, with a large number of focussed sessions spanning from phased-array technology, millimetre-wave IC-design for commercial applications, submm-wave circuits, linear receiver design and advanced power amplifiers, to active device modelling. On Monday evening the well known Foundry Round Table Discussions, organized by Massimo Comparini from the GAAS Association, is where selected European and non-European foundries will discuss trends and emerging technologies in the area of microwave and mm-wave integrated circuits.

To acknowledge the high quality of papers to be presented at EuMIC 2008, we will be awarding a Best Paper Prize and a Best Student Paper Prize. In addition, the GAAS Association will be presenting these winners with a plaque commemorating their achievements and will also provide three additional Student Fellowships.

A large number of workshops and short courses are organized during the Week; most of them are focused on hot topics for current and emerging industrial applications such as millimetre-wave systems, wide bandgap transistor/MMIC-technology, high power and high efficiency amplifiers and multifunctional systems. These subjects will be covered in workshops such as Reconfigurable RF Systems, System in Package Technologies for Microwave and Millimetre Wave Integration, Microwave Power Devices, Fundamentals of Microwave Power Amplifier Design, Modelling, Circuit Design and Measurement Techniques for Millimetre-Wave Systems, and Advances in Model-Based HPA Design. For the first time an on-line version of the conference programme is being kept up to date until the conference. All known programme changes are reflected in this pdf file, which can be downloaded from: www.eumweek.com. Check regularly for a new version.

Herbert Zirath’s overview of microwave MMIC/RFIC development

Compound semiconductor-based MMICs is still the basis for many commercial microwave/millimetre-wave systems such as microwave links and radar systems, but tremendous efforts in research and development are now being channelled into competing technologies including SiGe HBT and CMOS RFICs for many emerging high volume system applications such as automotive radar at 77 GHz and 24 GHz and millimetre-wave Wireless Local Area Networks/Personal Area Networks (WLANs/PANs) working at 60 GHz, etc.

Also, in defence applications such as phased-array radar, Si-technologies have been proven to be feasible. The obvious reason for using silicon is the potential low cost in high manufacturing volume, and in addition, the possibility of higher level integration. For instance, it should be possible to integrate RF-front end electronics with the baseband-electronics including microprocessors, signal processors, AD and DA converters, memory, etc., on one die, not only for low frequency products such as mobile phones, but also for millimetre-wave systems such as automotive radar and 60 GHz wireless communication systems.

For even higher frequencies, compound semiconductors are still the natural choice; emerging system applications such as point-to-point millimetre-wave links in the E-band (71 to 75 and 81 to 85 GHz), THz-imaging for security scanning and radiometers for Earth observation can now be realized in MMICs by using the latest compound semiconductor HBT or HEMT-processes, up to and beyond 300 GHz.

Improved modelling and processes also make it feasible to integrate a complete front end on one die on GaAs and InP. By using wafer sizes of 6 inches the cost of such systems could be kept to a level where it can be affordable even for consumer products at much lower frequencies. In addition, compound semiconductor-based technologies have an advantage where performance such as noise figure and output power are important.

For power amplifiers with high output power, GaN-based electronics has been a hot topic for many years. In the past, we have seen commercial products like power transistors for base station applications, etc. introduced. In addition, the importance of this technology for much higher frequencies is increasing, and there are now commercial products like MMICs available for such high frequencies as the E-band.

The research and development of wide bandgap materials and related circuits will most likely continue for many years with improved yield and lifetime, functionality and reduced cost as the main goals. The correct modelling of such transistors including thermal effects is of utmost importance for the successful realization of systems containing wide bandgap devices.

Such innovative technology and much, much more is what EuMIC 2008 is all about. It is the perfect opportunity to learn, network and contribute to the debate.