mmWave RFIC and MMIC Design Techniques

Course 181

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The successful design of mm-Wave (Millimeter Wave) monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) and RFICs is the result of a disciplined design approach. This three-day course covers, in detail, the theory, and practical strategies required to achieve first-pass design success. Specifically, the course covers the implementation of mm-Wave circuits on SiGe, GaAs, InP, and GaN substrates including instruction on processing, masks, simulation, layout, design rule checking, packaging, and testing. Numerous design examples are provided with emphasis on increasing yield, and reliability.

Students are encouraged to bring their laptop computers to class. CAD software will be used to simulate design examples. The design software the instructor will use in this course is Cadence/AWR Microwave Office.

Learning objectives

Upon completing the course you will be able to:

  • Learn the advantages and limitations of MMIC Designs
  • Take advantage of the inherent benefits of MMICs over hybrid circuits.
  • Account for the parasitics of the active device.
  • Design biasing networks for active circuits.
  • Design broadband amplifier.
  • Design MMIC power amplifiers at mm-Wave.
  • Test and detect odd and even-mode instabilities.
  • Improve the yield of MMIC chips.
  • Calculate the lifetime of MMIC chips in packaged and unpackaged assemblies.

Target Audience

Microwave engineers who want to design, fabricate, and test robust RF/Wireless MMICs, in the 30-100 GHz frequency range, will benefit from this comprehensive design course. Basic knowledge of microwave measurements and transmission line (Smith Chart) theory is assumed.


Day One

Introduction to MMIC Design
 • Advantages and tradeoffs: true cost, performance, reliability, size • Unique mm-Wave applications: Satellite communications, automotive radar, 5G, 60 GHz communications, beamforming •  Choosing among device technologies: GaAs FET/pHEMT, GaAs HBT, InP, SiGe, GaN HEMT • RFIC/MMIC Design cycle - process selection, device characterization, circuit topology decision, design, taping-out, testing
Passive MMIC Elements
 • mm-Wave element modeling - capacitors, inductors, transformers, via holes • Transmission line modeling - microstrip, coplanar. • mm-Wave combiners and dividers - Wilkinson, Lange, Pi-wave • Baluns, coupled lines, couplers. • mm-Wave impedance matching - Ruthroff transformer, Trifilar structure, and Coupled transmission line transformer
Odd / Even-mode Instability Detection
 • Gain definitions: Gmax, MSG, Unilateral gain • Conjugate matching • Stability analysis - odd mode, even mode analysis, bias-induced instabilities. Instability tests

Day Two

Active Devices
 • De-embedding, Characterization, modeling. • GaAs MESFET, pHEMT, HBT, SiGe, InP and GaN HEMT • Device parameters: ft, fmax, gm, RON, parasitics • Equivalent circuit—physical basis • Intrinsic equivalent circuit • Illustrative example: equivalent circuit extraction • Thermal resistance and lifetime estimation • Design example: choosing FET gate-pitch and bias for 10+ years lifetime
mm-Wave Amplifiers
 • Biasing network selection
Single stage design: lumped vs. distributed matching
 • Design example: 30 GHz 4W GaN feedback amplifier • Multi-stage design

Day Three

Sample Case Studies
 • Designing a 20 – 40 GHz 10 W GaN amplifier • Designing a 75 – 100 GHz 2W amplifier • Designing a 80 GHz SiGe amplifier • Designing a 45 GHz CMOS amplifier • Design a 28 GHz CMOS amplifier
 • Layout design rules • Process control and monitoring • Reverse engineering • Yield and sensitivity analysis
Testing and Packaging
 • Rapid testing: on-wafer, dc-screening • Package design • Package parasitics - cavity effects, stabilization • Thermal management - epoxy, eutectic