A Caltech Library Service

Direct Antenna Modulation (DAM) for On-Chip mm-Wave Transceivers


Babakhani, Aydin (2008) Direct Antenna Modulation (DAM) for On-Chip mm-Wave Transceivers. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/BS6T-1S20.


In the last few decades the puissant desire to miniaturize the digital circuits to achieve higher speed and larger density has shaped the evolution of the silicon-based technologies. This development opens a new era in the field of millimeter-wave electronics in which many low-cost high-yield silicon-based transistors can be used on a single chip to enable creation of novel architectures with unique properties not achievable with old processes. In addition to this high level of integration capability, the die size of comparable or even larger than the wave-length makes it possible to integrate antennas, transceivers, and digital circuitry all on a single silicon die.

It is important to realize that although smaller parasitic capacitors and shorter transistor channels have improved fT and fmax of transistors, extremely thin metal layers, highly doped substrates, and low breakdown voltage transistors have severely affected the performance of analog and RF building blocks. For example, thin metal layers have increased the loss and lowered the quality factor of the building blocks such as capacitors and inductors and low breakdown voltage transistors have made the power generation quite challenging. Additionally, if not carefully designed, small wave-lengths in the millimeter-wave range may cause unintended radiation by on-chip components. In this dissertation, we address these issues in design of millimeter-wave silicon-based single-chip phased-array transceivers with integrated antennas. We also introduce the technique of Direct Antenna Modulation (DAM) and implement two proof-of-concept chips operating at 60 GHz.

We will present the receiver and the on-chip antenna sections of a fully integrated 77 GHz four-element phased-array transceiver with on-chip antennas in silicon. The receiver section of the chip includes the complete down-conversion path comprising low-noise amplifier (LNA), frequency synthesizer, phase rotators, combining amplifiers, and on-chip dipole antennas. The signal combining is performed using a novel distributed active combining amplifier at an IF of 26 GHz. In the LO path, the output of the 52 GHz VCO is routed to different elements and can be phase shifted locally by the phase rotators. A silicon lens on the backside is used to reduce the loss due to the surface-wave power of the silicon substrate. Our measurements show a single-element LNA gain of 23 dB and a noise figure of 6.0 dB. Each of the four receive paths has a gain of 37 dB and a noise figure of 8.0 dB. Each on-chip antenna has a gain of +8 dBi.

A direct antenna modulation (DAM) technique is also introduced, where the radiated far-field signal is modulated by time-varying changes in the antenna near-field electromagnetic (EM) boundary conditions. This enables the transmitter to send data in a direction-dependent fashion producing a secure communication link. The transmitter architecture makes it possible to use narrow-band highly-efficient switching power amplifiers to transmit wideband constant and non-constant envelope modulated signals. Theoretically, these systems are capable of transmitting independent data in multiple directions at full-rate concurrently using a single transmitter. Direct antenna modulation (DAM) can be performed by using either switches or varactors. Two proof-of-concept DAM transmitters operating at 60GHz using switches and varactors are demonstrated in silicon proving the feasibility of this approach.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:CMOS; DAM; direct antenna modulation; integrated antennas; lens antennas; mm-wave integrated circuits; phased arrays; SiGe; transceivers
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Awards:Charles and Ellen Wilts Prize, 2009
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hajimiri, Ali (advisor)
  • Rutledge, David B. (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Hajimiri, Ali (chair)
  • Emami, Azita
  • Hassibi, Babak
  • Rutledge, David B.
  • Weinreb, Sander
Defense Date:28 May 2008
Non-Caltech Author Email:aydin.babakhani (AT)
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-06082008-174204
Persistent URL:
Babakhani, Aydin0000-0001-8123-9061
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:5227
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:09 Jun 2008
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 02:07

Thesis Files

PDF (AydinBabakhaniThesis.pdf) - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page