New market demands create a strong connection between packaging & RF.
RF electronics is currently experiencing strong growth, driven mostly by 5G requirements and connected devices. Examples of RF electronics include connectivity modules in smartphones and smartwatches, and radar for ADAS vehicles. These are growing systems requiring innovative packaging solutions which simultaneously address specifications for cost, form factor, and performance. Other challenges related to signal integrity and low power consumption are starting to be addressed by the industry, with new solutions on the way.
Innovation is needed for the design and materials used, thus pushing the supply chain to explore new developments and more complex business models. The diversity of RF components (power amplifier, filters, switches, antennas, etc.) requires the use of several levels of integration as well as different packaging platforms and interconnects (TSV, wirebond, etc.).
Researcher involved in the DREAM project will participate and have a tutorial presentation that contains some achievements developed in the project.
Design of advanced mm-wave phased arrays
In order to take advantage of the full capability of 5G millimetre wave systems beam forming is required on both sides of the radio link. Base station side can have complex high performance phased antenna arrays while the mobile devices feature simpler beam steering or beam switching antennas. MIMO capable antenna arrays have several independent antenna panels which can operate independent beams inside the same antenna sector.The main advantage of phased array antennas is spatial power combining which makes possible very high equivalent isotropic radiated power (EIRP). A phased array antenna can point narrow antenna beams toward users thus reducing stray radiation and increasing signal to noise ratio in the radio link. Nulls in radiation pattern can also be generated toward possible interferers.Typically a phased array antenna consists of several hundreds of antenna elements each having their own power amplifier (PA) and low noise amplifier (LNA). This requires high component integration level into so-called core chips having four or more antenna connections. Commonly used IC technologies are CMOS and SiGe. The antenna element size at millimetre wavelengths (>30 GHz) is small thus enabling large scale antenna arrays and separate TX and RX arrays. Components and antenna elements are typically integrated together on a low-loss printed circuit board (PCB). Thermal dissipation of the antenna array can be hundreds of watts so advanced thermal management methods must be applied.In this presentation the basic concepts and some 5G and beyond phased antenna array examples (both commercial and research) are discussed for different frequencies between 28 – 150 GHz.VTT has decades long experience in developing millimetre wave integrated circuits (MMIC), printed circuit board technology and low temperature co-fired ceramic (LTCC) substrate manufacturing, antennas and measurement technologies.