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A compact 281-319 GHz low-power downconverter MMIC for superheterodyne communication receivers

: Grötsch, Christopher M.; Dan, Iulia; John, Laurenz; Wagner, Sandrine; Kallfass, Ingmar


IEEE Transactions on Terahertz Science and Technology (2020), Online First, 10 S.
ISSN: 2156-342X
Fraunhofer IAF ()
millimeter-wave monolithic integrated circuit (MMIC); millimeterwave communication; THz; frequency conversion; broadband down-converter

This paper presents a fully-integrated first down conversion stage for a superheterodyne receiver for high data rate communication at 300 GHz. It comprises a frequency multiplier by-three, an active dual-gate downconverter and an LNA. The chip was fabricated in a 35nm InGaAs-based metamorphic high electron mobility transistor technology. The down-converter was designed to be used for different LO frequencies between 70and 80 GHz and IF frequencies from 65 to 95 GHz, to create multiple channels for real-time full-duplex communication in the terahertz region. It achieves a conversion gain of 14 dB without IF amplification and a 3-dB bandwidth of 25GHz in the desired upper sideband from 288 to 313 GHz and an estimated noise figure of 6.6 dB. Without the LNA the conversion gain of the circuit is -10 dB and it shows a 3-dB bandwidth of 38 GHz in a frequency range from 281 to 319 GHz. Finally, the MMIC will be compared in detail to a similar state-of-the-art down-converter using a resistive mixer and a necessary additional LO buffer stage in the same technology targeting the identical application. While exhibiting a better conversion gain and bandwidth and occupying only 40% of chip area, the presented down-converter consumes 70% less DC power than the MMIC with a resistive mixer.