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Systematic Design of Ka-band Transmitter Modules using the M3-Approach
Keywords: mmWave packaging, Satellite communications, Transmitter
Communication satellites connect people all over the world, and provide a myriad of services such as telephone, TV, radio and internet. These services have a significant impact on the lives of humans, especially in areas where terrestrial networks are not available because of geographical and/or economic reasons, or in areas where the networks have been destroyed as a result of a disaster. To meet the ever-increasing demand for broadband data communication, Ka-band satellites (uplink: 27.5 30 GHz; downlink: 17.7 20.2 GHz) have been introduced to enhance the Ku-band satellites. Majority of commercial Ka-band satellites are geosynchronous, orbiting about 36 000 km above the earth. Therefore, ground/earth stations must be designed to overcome the free space path loss caused by this distance. In stationary earth stations, large parabolic antennas are used to overcome this attenuation. However, such cumbersome antennas cannot be used for the development of earth stations on mobile platforms (ESOMPs) for emerging applications. These ESOMPs require small RF front-end modules (with steerable planar antennas) to provide on-the-move broadband services to passengers on moving vehicles, aircrafts and trains. The design of such miniaturized RF front-end modules capable of overcoming the huge free space path loss between Ka-band satellites and earth stations is a formidable task. In this work, we apply a novel systematic approach, the M3-approach, to design miniaturized, scalable and low-cost RF uplink (transmitter) modules for emerging ESOMPs applications in the Ka-band. The complete application of the M3-approach requires the implementation of three key steps, namely methodologies, models and measures. However, in this paper, we focus on the first two steps (i.e., methodologies and models). Based on known boundary conditions (i.e., distance between ESOMP and space station, required size of the transmitter module and the maximum allowable effective isotropic radiated power), we first applied well- structured methodologies to; 1) calculate the required antenna gain of approximately 40 dBi, and total EIRP (equivalent isotropic radiated power) transmitter output power of 60 dBW; 2) derive a scalable transmitter architecture and specify the required performance values of the transmitter components (i.e., power amplifier, mixer, coupler, filter and frequency multiplier); 3) develop a low-cost quasi millimeter-wave (mmWave) packaging concept for integrating the antenna and transceiver components; 4) develop concepts for rigorous modeling at the package, component and module- levels; 5) develop concepts for testing at the package, component and module- levels. In the second step, we extracted realistic models of packaging segments, antennas and filter, considering the specifications and concepts developed in the first step. For verification of these models, test samples of each of the modelled structures were fabricated and measured individually. Furthermore, test samples of combined structures (also considering the active components) were fabricated and measured. Very good correlations were obtained between measurement and simulation/predicted results, thus verifying the models at package, component and module-levels. The verified models were then applied to rigorously study the impact of design parameters, packaging technologies and process variations on thermal integrity (TI), signal integrity (SI), power integrity (PI) and intra-system electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of the Ka-band transmitter module. Applying the M3-approach right at the beginning of the design process leads to elimination of costly re-design iterations (based on trial-and-error), while simultaneously optimizing the system performance.
Ivan Ndip, Head of Department
Fraunhofer IZM
Berlin, Deutschland

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