The RedTail Telematics sponsored April ARMMS RF & Microwave Conference, held at Oxford UK, continued the upward trend by attracting an increased number of delegates who were treated to a wide range of presentations brought together by Alistair Frier of Teledyne Labtech. A reflectometer capable of return loss amplitude and phase measurements to a frequency in excess of 110 GHz was described in detail by Karam Noujeim of Anritsu, Morgan Hill, California, USA. He explained how nonlinear transmission lines (NLTL) are utilised to create very fast fall times which, when differentiated, produce a sampling pulse of very short duration. The reflectometer sampling receiver operates to very high frequencies by this method and achieves 100 dB of dynamic range. This performance in a small case allows return loss to be measured on-wafer.

Dr. Jeff Powell of Skyarna was awarded the Steve Evans-Pughe Prize for best speaker, which was voted for by the delegates. He explained that GaN technology may achieve a comparable noise figure to GaAs at 10 GHz, while achieving very much better strong signal performance. His paper combined physical modelling and circuit simulation with practical measurements of low noise amplifiers and was very well received. Those who were unable to attend can see the presentation for themselves at

ARMMS addressed a wide range of radio frequency technologies and to illustrate this Chris Church, Standards Architect at Cambridge Silicon Radio, explained the new concept of location awareness in licensing of the TV white space bands. This idea will allow radios to operate in the 400 to 700 MHz range, which has very desirable propagation characteristics for mobile devices. Each device will be served with a ‘licence’ from a central database giving channels and power levels available on that specific day. The very wide bandwidth and requirement for efficient yet small antennas implies novel antenna tuning technology, which has yet to be developed; MEMS was suggested as a candidate technique.

MEMS technology was also the subject of a Distinguished Microwave Lecture from the IEEE given by Stepan Lucyszyn of the Department of EEE at Imperial College in London. He suggested that MEMS was now on the Gartner’s "Slope of Enlightenment" following the "Trough of Disillusionment” and "Peak of Inflated Expectations". He explained the benefits and disadvantages of the technology.

ARMMS is not only a forum for discussing the latest technology and innovations, but also provides an opportunity for networking and socialising epitomised by the Society Dinner, which also provided the opportunity to meet old friends. Discussions went on until late in the night and topics for conversation ranged widely. Networking continued at the companion exhibition, which was very well supported by a range of companies comprising Agilent Technologies, Anritsu, APC-Novacom, AWR, Castle Microwave, Cardiff University, Cobham Microwave, CST, e2v, Guidance Microwave, K&L Microwave, ,b>Linwave, Rhode & Schwarz, SJ Technologie, Teledyne Labtech and ,b>Teratech Components.

ARMMS is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers who are active in the RF and microwave industry. The Society’s next conference is a two day event to be held on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 November 2011 at the Rockingham Hotel in Corby, UK.