Millimetre-wave tech to improve radars

1 min read

A low power millimetre-wave amplifier has been developed by Hiroshima University and Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor (MIFS) researchers that feeds on a 0.5V power supply and covers frequencies ranging from 80 to 106GHz.

Using deeply depleted channel (DDC) technology, the research team claims this is the first W-band amplifier that can operate with such a low power-supply voltage.

According to the team, DDC technology offers high performance silicon MOS transistors even at low voltages.

"Compared to conventional CMOS, our DDC transistors offer excellent performance in low power operations. We have proven that we can extend those outstanding qualities to the millimetre band," said Mutsuaki Kai, MIFS vice president of technology development.

The W-band covers the frequencies used by automotive radars. Sophisticated driver-assistance and self-driving will require radars with millimetre-wave beam scanning capability that can ‘see’ day and night and even in adverse weather conditions.

Given the fact that even cars are becoming battery-operated, it is imperative that these circuits be low power. According to the researchers, lowering the power-supply voltage is the most effective means of accomplishing that.

"Now that low power W-band circuits seem possible, we should think about what we can do with them,” said Professor Minoru Fujishima at Hiroshima University. “Applications aren't limited to automotive radars and high speed communications between base stations.

“What if you have a radar on your smartphone? Today's smartphones can already sense things like acceleration, audible sound, visible light, and Earth's magnetic field. But the only active probing device is an LED that can illuminate at most a few metres. Add a millimetre-wave radar on a smartphone, and it could respond to waves from a friend's radar and send some signal back. A whole lot of applications could be created including games.”