A surprising number of our associates found their way to Seattle, WA, this year and were rewarded with an unexpectedly upbeat IMS 2002. This year's Microwave Week was blessed with unusually good weather and an attendance that came close to last year's record in Phoenix. Just over 11,000 attendees and 532 companies participated in the symposium and exhibition.

There is no getting away from it, our business sector has been hard hit this last year by a faltering economy and a major slowdown in demand. Consequently, expectations for a symposium in an area that has not been a hotbed of activity for our industry were low. However, the IMS general chairman, Donn Harvey, and his capable team worked hard to host a superb technical program and the city of Seattle put out the welcome mat in fine style. As a result the attendees and the various company exhibitors enjoyed a stimulating week of technical interchange and sales contacts, along with an enjoyable look at a very refreshing city and surrounding area.

Although somewhat limited in space, most participants found the Washington State Convention and Trade Center to be a comfortable and pleasing facility for the week's events. Its location, a short walk from the surrounding hotels, was in the heart of the city.

This year the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society is enjoying its 50th anniversary, and for the first time held its annual symposium in the Pacific Northwest. The technical program was the biggest ever and the social events were some of the most enjoyable ever offered. Also to be commended are Ed Godshalk, Conference Chair of the 59th Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG), and Natalino Camilleri, Technical Program Committee Chairman of the RFIC Symposium, both of which ran concurrent with IMS.

The Technical Program

Six parallel sessions were required to present the 491 technical papers accepted from 886 submissions. Eric Strid, the IMS Technical Program Committee Chair, and Ed Godshalk, the Vice-Chair, did a superb job of organizing the paper presentations and interactive forums, the 27 technical workshops and the over 200 student submitted papers. The conference ran Sunday through Friday, with lunchtime panel sessions on Monday through Thursday. The panel sessions dealt with cellular applications of RF CMOS, the single chip radio, RF MEMS and WLAN technology. There were also three tutorial sessions on Sunday dealing with RF fundamentals, MEMS technology and EM simulators. The technical sessions covered every imaginable area of high frequency technology from device and MMIC design to system applications. This year's hot topics included RF MEMS, smart antennas, active device modeling and nonlinear CAD techniques, and many more covering all areas of the high frequency spectrum. In addition, this was the seventh year of the Microwave Application and Product Seminars (µAPS). In all, 54 mAPS sessions were offered over the three-day industry exhibition as a way of adding a practical application dimension to the Symposium.

Social Events

The social events were ushered in by Monday evening's Microwave Journal /MTT-S reception, co-sponsored this year by MITEQ, in the shadow of Seattle's Space Needle. This year the reception was at the Pacific Science Center, in the area that used to be the Seattle World's Fair grounds. For those that took the time, there were many thought-provoking interactive displays and stimulating exhibits. It is always a good event to meet old friends and renew past acquaintances.

Other social events included the Sunday evening RFIC reception at the Sheraton, an evening dinner and visit to Tillicum Village, the Industry-hosted reception on Wednesday prior to the MTT-S Awards Banquet in the Sheraton Ballroom, and the Student Awards Banquet.

The social program also included a number of interesting activities that took advantage of the numerous interesting attractions in the Seattle and Victoria area. There was a golf tournament on Saturday, a Mount Rainier tour, and tours of downtown Seattle and the Space Needle. Tours were also offered to some of the area's wineries and breweries, a Snoqualmie Falls and winery tour, a visit to the Boeing plant, a Seattle Museum tour, a tour of the locks and harbor, and an overnight tour of Victoria.

The Industry Exhibition

Although Seattle recently expanded the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, some potential exhibitors were left out as every available spot in all five halls was utilized. The lucky companies that found themselves in the walkway between the two halls were basking in sunlight and had a pleasant view of the harbor at the bottom of Pike Street.

As is always the case, the exhibition was the place to showcase the many new products being offered by exhibiting companies. It is not possible to highlight them all, however, the following is a sample of some of the interesting new items on display.

Advanced Power Technology RF, formerly GHz Technology, announced its first two designs in a series of LDMOS transistors, 110 W peak and 200 W peak devices featuring 13 and 12 dB of gain, respectively, developed for the avionics market. Both transistors offer gold metallization for enhanced reliability and use ceramic flange-mount packages. The two devices are specifically characterized for use in pulsed applications and operate from 32 V DC.

As usual, Agilent Technologies had several new announcements, including new software and hardware tools that accelerate the design and production of 3G wireless devices. GPRS and cdma2000 lab applications for the 8960 series 10 wireless communications test set are designed to help developers test the complex signaling and data protocols of 3G devices. Manufacturers can also ensure high quality W-CDMA devices using the 8960's enhanced W-CDMA mobile test application. In addition, the Agilent GS-9200 multi-carrier power amplifier (MCPA) test system, the first commercially available MCPA test platform, was introduced. It enables base station and contract manufacturers to speed MCPA production while reducing the overall test costs. The company also announced the first product resulting from their alliance with Cadence Design Systems, the Agilent RFDE RF EDA software platform that integrates Agilent's RF simulation technologies into the Cadence analog/mixed signal design flow framework. This combination is expected to reduce the development time required for large-scale RF/mixed signal ICs used in wireless and wireline applications.

The Anritsu Co. introduced a test system that allows engineers to see true performance of tower-mounted amplifiers. The ME7842B Tower Mounted Amplifier Test System (TMATS) is comprised of the Scorpion Vector Network Measurement System, a flexible multi-port test set, and the Scorpion Navigator software, and dramatically simplifies testing of multi-port TMAs. Final test measurements can be made in less than 30 seconds. Three new CW generators were added to the MG3690A series, creating the first synthesizer family that covers DC to 65 GHz. The three models, MG3691A, MG3695A and MG3696A, all feature high spectral purity and frequency stability plus ultra-low phase noise, and can be used in a variety of laboratory and production applications. In addition, an IF upconversion option for the MG2690A series allows IQ modulation at microwave frequencies.

Applied Wave Research (AWR) announced a 3G W-CDMA library for its Visual System Simulator 2002. The 3G Design Studio library supports the simulation and evaluation of wireless communications equipment designed for use in base stations and user equipment. The library enables an RF/microwave engineer to generate reference measurement channel waveforms using single-block transmitter models. Also, AWR and TriQuint announced the availability of library support for AWR's Microwave Office 2002 design software. The new process design kits (PDK) enable MMIC designers to reduce development time while helping to ensure their products meet electrical specifications.

UltraRF announced it was changing its name to its parent, Cree Microwave, and continuing the UltraGold brand of LDMOS under the Cree name. They also introduced a 10 W SiC RF power MESFET that features 12 dB of small-signal gain and 48 V operation up to 3 GHz.

Cascade Microtech introduced an on-wafer millimeter-wave device characterization solution that can reduce design cycle time by as much as 40 percent. The new solution provides a state-of-the-art 200 or 300 mm on-wafer probing system and a patented MicroChamber that eliminates the need to reconfigure the test system between RF and parametric tests on the same wafer. The system uses high performance characterization probes that are useful to 110 GHz. The company also introduced an on-wafer differential/multi-port test system that increases measurement accuracy while reducing modeling and design costs. The turnkey system includes dual high performance characterization probes, a differential ISS, an Agilent ENA series RF network analyzer and the company's 200 and 300 mm probing systems.

Coventor was demonstrating its MEMS SPST microrelay switch that operates with a 35 to 90 V control voltage. Two individually controlled microrelays are packaged in an SOIC8 package to form a switch pair that can be used as two individually controlled SPSTs, one SPDT or one DPST. The switches are capable of switching 50 V and the switching time is 50 µs.

Dow-Key Microwave's newest product is a high power SP6T electromechanical switch that operates from DC to 1 GHz with an upgrade capability to 6.5 GHz. Equipped with a normally open actuator, the switch has an operating speed of 20 ms and operates from a nominal 28 V DC supply at typically 200 mA. The switch is designed to connect one of six available antennas to a high power transmitter.

W.L. Gore launched its MICROLAM® 600 series Microvia Dielectric products that are toughened to ensure superior reliability in cell phone, PDA and other portable applications. The new materials meet critical environmental tests for chip packages and offer very low loss characteristics for RF module applications.

Honeywell was introducing its 2400 MHz radio on a chip. The new IC is a half-duplex transceiver for use in digital data applications and has a direct microprocessor connection for control and data transfer, eliminating the need for additional ICs, while the integrated data code/decode reduces the instruction set requirements on the microprocessor. The new IC is ideally suited for use in battery-powered wireless applications in conjunction with microprocessors for data communications.

Keithley Instruments introduced two RF multiplexer modules for its popular model 2700 and 2750 Multimeter/Switch Systems. The new modules are wideband signal routing solutions that complement the powerful DC and low frequency switching and measurement capabilities of the 2700 and 2750 mainframes. The model 7712 offers RF switching to 3.5 GHz for applications such as 3G telecom. The companion model 7711 provides low cost, general purpose RF switching to 2 GHz.

The MI-3615 far-field antennas test and measurement system and the MI-3630 near-field systems for cylindrical measurements were featured by MI Technologies. The new test and measurement family of products offer 10 far-field antenna pattern measurement systems with single and dual axis configurations. The family also includes 10 near-field measurement systems. The new products offer the wireless industry fast and cost-effective antenna measurements and data acquisition and analysis of antenna performance from 500 MHz to 6 GHz in the far-field and 400 MHz to 18 GHz in the near-field.

Palomar Technologies introduced its Gold Bumper™ wire bonder that uses standard 1 mil gold wire and creates planarized, tailless bumps in a consistent, repeatable, single-step process with 5 mm placement accuracy. Simple Windows-based software enables changes in ball array, position and shapes to match the desired attach pattern. The new bonder creates a variety of bump shapes in an in-house, rather than a foundry or fab process.

Raytheon RF Components announced a strategic alliance with WIN Semiconductors of Taiwan to produce next generation components for wireless telecommunications applications. Raytheon will gain access to state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities in return for a substantial investment. WIN Semiconductors will produce six-inch wafers utilizing Raytheon's 3 µm InGaP HBT process, while guaranteeing Raytheon access to a portion of its foundry capacity. Raytheon also introduced two new, single-band, dual-mode power amplifiers for AMPS/CDMA applications.

TRAK Communications introduced a new low pass filter for use in fiber optics SONET-SDH OC-768 optical multi-service platforms, metro and long haul transmitter receiver module applications. The filter has a 30 GHz cutoff frequency, excellent pulse shaping capabilities in a small size and rugged design. The filter features absorption up to 65 GHz, increasing attenuation to 100 GHz, a group delay of 7 ps to 65 GHz and linear phase deviation of < 8° to 43 GHz. Also introduced were a new low pass Bessel filter for similar system applications, an embedded dual-polarized wireless antenna and embedded surface mount antennas for WLAN, modem and PDA applications.

Zentrix Technologies introduced high performance circuitry on aluminum nitride that employs the company's Enhanced Circuits Processing technology and provides 30 to 50 percent lower insertion loss than thin film. The AlN circuitry is used as an alternative to conventional ceramic oxide substrates due to its high thermal conductivity of up to 200 W/mK.

Many more new products and services were on display, attesting to the development efforts of all of the companies in our industry in spite of a sagging economy and a flat market outlook.

Looking Ahead to Philadelphia

IMS 2003 will be held in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA, in June 2003. The "Liberty Through Microwaves" event will be held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, June 8 to 13. Information may be obtained via the IMS 2003 Web site at www.ims2003.org. I hope all of you will plan on visiting this historic city and attending another exciting Symposium. See you there.