Wireless communication is continuously demanding for higher data rates. For example, end users with their mobile devices (smart phone, tablet, ...) are seeking for ever increasing resolutions of video that is streamed over the air. To enable all this, a massive amount of data must be transported in the backbone of the network. In this backbone, communication not only happens via wires (copper, optical fibres) but also over the air. Wireless datarates that are needed there exceed 100 Gbit/s. This requires large bandwidths, which are only available at frequencies beyond 100 GHz.
Today, transceivers for wireless communication above 100GHz use III-V technologies (GaAs, InP, ...), which are quite expensive. This PhD. work targets the design of wireless transceivers operating around 150 GHz based on silicon technologies. This comprises classical building blocks such as a low-noise amplifier, a power amplifier and a frequency synthesizer. In addition to that, electronics for beamsteering of antenna arrays will be included. The use of beamforming with antenna arrays improves the link budget for wireless communication, which, according to Friis’ law, suffers from a considerable free-space path loss.
For the targeted wireless communication around 150 GHz, no standards exist yet. Currently, different types of modulation schemes are being investigated at imec. The choice of the modulation scheme has a strong impact on the RF circuits in the transmitter and receiver. For example, the higher the spectral efficiency of the modulation scheme is, the more severe the phase noise specification of the frequency synthesizer will be. As a PhD. student you will team up with imec payroll people and PhD. students to define the radio architecture at the transmit and receive side. An important decision to be taken is on where the beamforming will be implemented: at RF, at analog baseband or in the digital domain.
With your PhD. work you will provide the entire RF section of a transmitter and receiver that will be completed by analog baseband circuits that will be designed by other PhD. candidates. In conclusion, this PhD. focuses on the design of very high-speed RF circuits and on-chip antenna arrays in advanced CMOS operating in the THz region. You will design these circuits amid a group of analog IC designers, surrounded by system-level designers and digital design experts.
Required background: electrical engineering
Type of work: 10% literature, 90% IC design including measurements
Supervisor: Piet Wambacq
Daily advisor: Akshay Visweswaran
The reference code for this PhD position is SE1712-11. Mention this reference code on your application form.