Scientists from IBM have created a SiGe BiCMOS-based prototype of a phased-array transceiver with the millimeter-wave components for both high data-rate communications and advanced-resolution radar imaging applications. IBM says that the newly demonstrated integrated circuits (ICs) allow radar-imaging technology to be scaled down to the size of a computer laptop so pilots can penetrate fog, dust and other vision impairing obstructions.
IBM says that the complete solution including antennas, packaging, and transceiver ICs, transforms signals between millimeter-wave and baseband in a form factor smaller than an American nickel. Because of its short wavelength, relatively low atmospheric attenuation, and ability to penetrate debris IBM says that the ICs are well suited for high-resolution radar imaging applications.
The packaged transceiver operates at frequencies of 90-94GHz. It is implemented as a unit tile, integrating four phased array ICs and 64 dual-polarized antennas. IBM notes that tiling packages next to one another on a circuit board enables the creation of scalable phased arrays of large aperture with uniform antenna element spacing. The beamforming from the hundreds of antenna elements will reportedly allow communications and radar imaging applications to extend over a range of kilometers.
Each of the four phased-array ICs in a tile integrates 32 receive and 16 transmit elements with dual outputs to support 16 dual polarized antennas. It supports multiple operating modes including the simultaneous reception of horizontal and vertical polarizations, and it integrates frequency synthesis, conversion, and digital control functions