Electrical engineers from UC San Diego are at the leading edge of efforts to merge silicon chip technologies with sophisticated wireless communications tools in the millimeter and microwave range —technologies that traditionally have been too expensive for all but defense and satellite applications.
Advanced radio-frequency CMOS chips from the Rebeiz lab, and a silicon-based millimeter wave amplifier that works at 60 to 120 GHz (the Cascaded Constructive Wave Amplifier) from the Buckwalter lab are just two examples. These kinds of projects are moving toward inexpensive, silicon-based wireless communications links in millimeter and microwave frequency range that can support data transfer rates as fast as 10 Gigabits per second over a kilometer.
The goal of millimeter and microwave wireless in the 60-300 Ghz and Terahertz range is being pursued in many countries (Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Europe and more) and around the United States.
“In our labs, we work on advanced radio-frequency CMOS chips, planar antennas, and system-level design so as to result in 10 to 100 times faster data transfers at the same energy consumption. This is done using phased arrays, efficient power amplifiers, very low-noise receivers, and advanced packaging technologies. Systems developed at UCSD have demonstrated data transfer up to 6 Giga-bits-per-second, which is 12 times faster than the best USB protocols,” said Rebeiz.
Engineers in Peter Asbeck’s laboratory are making amplifiers more linear and more power efficient. Improving the linearity of amplifiers can allow for the packing of more bits per hertz (Hz) of bandwidth. UCSD projects have shown that both these benefits can be obtained with a combination of advanced microwave design and digital signal processing.
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