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Self-Healing Techniques for RF and mm-Wave Transmitters and Receivers


Dasgupta, Kaushik (2015) Self-Healing Techniques for RF and mm-Wave Transmitters and Receivers. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9HQ3WTR.


With continuing advances in CMOS technology, feature sizes of modern Silicon chip-sets have gone down drastically over the past decade. In addition to desktops and laptop processors, a vast majority of these chips are also being deployed in mobile communication devices like smart-phones and tablets, where multiple radio-frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) must be integrated into one device to cater to a wide variety of applications such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, wireless charging, etc. While a small feature size enables higher integration levels leading to billions of transistors co-existing on a single chip, it also makes these Silicon ICs more susceptible to variations. A part of these variations can be attributed to the manufacturing process itself, particularly due to the stringent dimensional tolerances associated with the lithographic steps in modern processes. Additionally, RF or millimeter-wave communication chip-sets are subject to another type of variation caused by dynamic changes in the operating environment. Another bottleneck in the development of high performance RF/mm-wave Silicon ICs is the lack of accurate analog/high-frequency models in nanometer CMOS processes. This can be primarily attributed to the fact that most cutting edge processes are geared towards digital system implementation and as such there is little model-to-hardware correlation at RF frequencies.

All these issues have significantly degraded yield of high performance mm-wave and RF CMOS systems which often require multiple trial-and-error based Silicon validations, thereby incurring additional production costs. This dissertation proposes a low overhead technique which attempts to counter the detrimental effects of these variations, thereby improving both performance and yield of chips post fabrication in a systematic way. The key idea behind this approach is to dynamically sense the performance of the system, identify when a problem has occurred, and then actuate it back to its desired performance level through an intelligent on-chip optimization algorithm. We term this technique as self-healing drawing inspiration from nature's own way of healing the body against adverse environmental effects. To effectively demonstrate the efficacy of self-healing in CMOS systems, several representative examples are designed, fabricated, and measured against a variety of operating conditions.

We demonstrate a high-power mm-wave segmented power mixer array based transmitter architecture that is capable of generating high-speed and non-constant envelope modulations at higher efficiencies compared to existing conventional designs. We then incorporate several sensors and actuators into the design and demonstrate closed-loop healing against a wide variety of non-ideal operating conditions. We also demonstrate fully-integrated self-healing in the context of another mm-wave power amplifier, where measurements were performed across several chips, showing significant improvements in performance as well as reduced variability in the presence of process variations and load impedance mismatch, as well as catastrophic transistor failure. Finally, on the receiver side, a closed-loop self-healing phase synthesis scheme is demonstrated in conjunction with a wide-band voltage controlled oscillator to generate phase shifter local oscillator (LO) signals for a phased array receiver. The system is shown to heal against non-idealities in the LO signal generation and distribution, significantly reducing phase errors across a wide range of frequencies.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:CMOS, self-healing, millimeter wave, power amplifier, non-constant envelope modulation
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hajimiri, Ali
Thesis Committee:
  • Hajimiri, Ali (chair)
  • Rutledge, David B.
  • Emami, Azita
  • Weinreb, Sander
  • Choo, Hyuck
Defense Date:27 October 2014
Funding AgencyGrant Number
U.S. Air Force Research LaboratoryUNSPECIFIED
U.S. Office of Naval ResearchUNSPECIFIED
City of Hope National Cancer InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10282014-113257585
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8717
Deposited By: Kaushik Dasgupta
Deposited On:29 Oct 2014 16:12
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:07

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