industry news
Subscribe Now

UCI engineers develop powerful millimeter-wave signal generator

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 7, 2017 – Your doctor waves a hand-held scanner over your body and gets detailed, high-resolution images of your internal organs and tissues. Using the same device, the physician then sends gigabytes of data instantly to a remote server and just as rapidly receives information to make a diagnosis.

Integrated circuit researchers at the University of California, Irvine have created a silicon microchip-based component that could make these and many other actions possible.

Known as a “radiator,” the tiny gadget emits millimeter-wave signals in the G band (110 to 300 gigahertz). Waves of this frequency easily penetrate solid surfaces and provide extremely sharp resolution, enabling new, more effective methods of biomedical and security scanning and imaging. The chips also can perform a key role in point-to-point wireless communication.

The UCI engineers who created the technology said that tests in their lab have shown it to have the highest power and efficiency ever recorded in such a radiating element while exhibiting the lowest noise (interference from other sources of radiation).

UCI professor of electrical engineering & computer science Payam Heydari, lead investigator on the project, will present information about the development at this week’s IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

“We’re very excited about the successful design of this radiator because it represents a complete breakthrough,” said Heydari, a 2017 IEEE Fellow. “We’re offering an entirely new kind of physics, a new kind of device really. Our power and efficiency is an order of magnitude greater than other designs.”

Through a process of trial and error, he and members of his UCI lab invented a tool that performs three crucial functions, he said. It combines power from multiple amplifiers; it modulates that signal to a desired frequency setting; and it radiates it out in waves that are used to see, sense or communicate.

“By making a single device that provides a multitude of operations, we’ve gotten rid of all the interstage, highly inefficient systems found in other radiators, and as a result, we can achieve higher power output,” Heydari said.

One of his lab’s graduate students, Peyman Nazari, designed the device as an octagonal semiconductor chip with a unique cavity structure that allows for the emission of circularly polarized radiation. Most transmitters now generate linearly polarized signals, which can get “lost” when antennas and receivers are out of alignment. Emissions from one of the UCI radiators, if you could see them, would appear as tiny spinning tornados. Beams of this shape are particularly effective at penetrating solid objects and providing detailed pictures of what’s inside.

Heydari said his group’s invention will be particularly beneficial in biomedical applications, as it will give doctors a way to differentiate tumor masses from healthy tissue. It could also be used in genomic research, equipping scientists with an instrument that can be so precisely tuned as to enable the excitation, or lighting up, of individual proteins.

But the new radiator can do a lot more than facilitate scanning and imaging. According to Heydari, it could be the key that unlocks millimeter-wave transmission as part of the fifth-generation wireless standard now in development. In addition, the tiny yet powerful chips can be embedded virtually anywhere. The internet of things will rely heavily on machines, buildings and other infrastructure being equipped with sensors and antennae. Driverless vehicles will only be possible if cars and trucks can detect each other.

“By using this millimeter-wave technology, cars all of a sudden become super-smart processing systems,” Heydari said. “Vehicles will be able to communicate with one another, and radar capabilities will be enhanced, greatly improving blind spot detection and collision avoidance.”

His lab’s radiator work is sponsored by the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology’s Global Research Outreach Program.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visitwww.uci.edu.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Apr 12, 2024
Like any software application or electronic gadget, software updates are crucial for Cadence OrCAD X and Allegro X applications as well. These software updates, often referred to as hotfixes, include support for new features and critical bug fixes made available to the users ...
Apr 11, 2024
See how Achronix used our physical verification tools to accelerate the SoC design and verification flow, boosting chip design productivity w/ cloud-based EDA.The post Achronix Achieves 5X Faster Physical Verification for Full SoC Within Budget with Synopsys Cloud appeared ...
Mar 30, 2024
Join me on a brief stream-of-consciousness tour to see what it's like to live inside (what I laughingly call) my mind...

featured video

How MediaTek Optimizes SI Design with Cadence Optimality Explorer and Clarity 3D Solver

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems

In the era of 5G/6G communication, signal integrity (SI) design considerations are important in high-speed interface design. MediaTek’s design process usually relies on human intuition, but with Cadence’s Optimality Intelligent System Explorer and Clarity 3D Solver, they’ve increased design productivity by 75X. The Optimality Explorer’s AI technology not only improves productivity, but also provides helpful insights and answers.

Learn how MediaTek uses Cadence tools in SI design

featured chalk talk

Accessing AWS IoT Services Securely over LTE-M
Developing a connected IoT design from scratch can be a complicated endeavor. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton, Harald Kröll from u-blox, Lucio Di Jasio from AWS, and Rob Reynolds from SparkFun Electronics examine the details of the AWS IoT ExpressLink SARA-R5 starter kit. They explore the common IoT development design challenges that AWS IoT ExpressLink SARA-R5 starter kit is looking to solve and how you can get started using this kit in your next connected IoT design.
Oct 26, 2023
22,049 views