Joint Centers of Excellence Program

Phase array antenna for Millimeter-Wave applications

The Phased Array Antenna (PAA) program would be a development program aimed at the creation of advanced operational prototypes that could eventually be integrated with intellectual property from a collaborating industry partners. We propose to focus on a modular design using building blocks that could subsequently be used to develop a number of antennas with different size and performance parameters.

While it may be feasible to do some early fabrication of the demonstration-level version of the silicon needed to support the aperture in Calit2’s Nano3 nanofabrication facility (where a lot of other antenna prototyping is carried out), it would likely lack features for manufacturability and broad temperature range operation. Thus, we anticipate that production-level silicon would eventually need to be manufactured at IBM or another established commercial fabrication facility. Based on an initial assessment of current research in phased array antenna technology, it is foreseen that potential areas of study would vary across different time horizons:

a. Near-term:
i. Access to low-cost silicon-germanium (SiGe) wafer runs and advanced processes, including the possible co-development of prototype chips;
ii. Examine adaptive linearity of arrays – for example, increasing the bias to improve intermod performance when operating in the presence of large interfereres, and then reducing the bias when interferers are not present; and
iii. Development of algorithms for complex beam forming and steering nulls or shaping beams to point at multiple satellites.

b. Medium-term:
i. Develop alternate topologies for wideband aperture elements (covering up to 3x BW range – 11GHz to 31 GHz) – especially planar solutions;
ii. Examine ways to accomplish full duplex operation on a common element on Ka only or preferably with a wideband design that will do both Ku and Ka band;
iii. Approaches for improving the field of view at high scan angles; and
iv. True time delay technology on SiGe (to allow beam steering over very broad bands).

c. Long-term:
i. Study wideband A/D technology allowing digital beam-forming by digitizing up to 3.5 GHz of spectrum.