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A Novel Packaging Technology for Millimeter Wave Subsystems and Components
Keywords: Millimeterwave, Packaging, MMIC's
Todays microwave systems both commercial and military, use circuit board technology to interconnect active MMICs (Microwave Monolithic Integrated Circuits) and passive devices up to 50GHz. However, when the wavelength approaches just a few millimeters, similar to the dimensions of the MMIC chips and the internal structure of the components, many electromagnetic effects, usually negligible at lower frequencies, become dominant. Effects, such as non-bulk conduction in the interconnections and resonance in the cavity the MMIC chips are housed in, can often render a millimeter wave module completely non-functional. Using technology from the early days of microwave, millimeter wave modules for applications in the V-band (~60GHz), E-band (71-76GHz and 81-86GHz) and the W-band (up to 110GHz) are usually constructed from metal, machined to small dimensions with tight tolerances. Supporting functions such as power supplies and amplifier control are often implemented on separate circuit boards mounted in other cavities in the metal enclosure far from the active chips. Compared to lower microwave frequencies, where low loss RF materials allow multilayer circuit boards that integrate both active MMIC devices and supporting surface mount, this step up to higher frequencies makes the modules larger, heavier, and more expensive. These factors also make automated assembly of millimeter wave components much more difficult, a roadblock to the benefits of repeatable performance and lower costs. In addition to technology, size, weight, and costs; the contrast between microwave and millimeter wave can also be seen in the suppliers of components. There are numerous high volume suppliers of microwave sub-systems up to 50GHz. However, building true millimeter wave systems at 60GHz and above often requires years of experience. This paper will describe a novel approach to packaging millimeter wave devices that circumvents the above described historical issues.
Dana E. Wheeler, SVP & GM
HXI LLC
Haverhill, MA


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