CMOS radio front-end circuit blocks for millimeter-wave communications and atmospheric remote sensing receivers: Dissertation

    Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


    This thesis focuses on integrated circuits operating at millimeter-wave frequencies in CMOS technologies. More explicitly, the dissertation concentrates on the design and characterization of mm-wave monolithic active and passive components, the low-noise amplifier (LNA), the amplifier beyond cut-off frequency, the resistive mixer, the Gilbert-cell mixer, the sub-harmonic mixer, and the receiver front-end for earth remote sensing applications. The applications for these circuits vary from E-band high-speed communication to atmospheric remote sensing at 183 GHz and also for 300 GHz spectroscopy. This dissertation presents research contributions in the form of nine scientific publications and an overview of the research topic, which also summarizes the principal results of the work.
    MMIC designs at mm-wave frequencies have a significant dependency on the accurate design of passives and active components. Therefore, an extensive study on designing various transmission lines and other critical passive components such as on-chip Lange couplers at 130 GHz and 180 GHz, transformers at 90 GHz and 130 GHz, spiral baluns at 90 GHz and 130 GHz, finger and plate capacitors, and RF probing pads are carried out. For active device modeling, the layout dependency on the transistor performance is investigated.
    In this work, a simple and computationally efficient modeling technique is proposed to characterize the coupled slow-wave coplanar waveguide (CS-CPW) structure which is valid for any silicon technology. A D-band LNA utilizing the CS-CPW as the matching elements, and a 3-dB quadrature coupler covering the whole E- to W-band using the CS-CPW structure are designed to verify the proposed modeling methodology of the CS-CPW. The LNA shows a gain from 135 GHz to 170 GHz and a noise figure of 8.5 dB, and the coupler occupies only 50% silicon area compared to the conventional Lange couplers.
    Many different mm-wave circuit blocks are also developed within the scope of this work. The S-CPW based amplifier illustrates gain from 124 to 184 GHz. The 0.325-THz CMOS amplifier shows a gain of 4.5 dB, and demonstrate the highest operation frequency for a silicon amplifier up to date. A compact 129-140 GHz Gilbert-cell mixer and 127-140 GHz image-rejection resistive mixer are realized for a 140-GHz transceiver. At 180 GHz, a compact subharmonic I/Q balanced resistive mixer together with two on-chip IF amplifiers are realized and show a conversion gain of +8 dB with a 20 dB IR ratio. Furthermore, in this thesis, a feasibility study for using the CMOS circuit blocks in designing the future light-weight, small-in-size atmospheric remote sensing receivers is performed. The performance of the designed CMOS down-converter MMIC demonstrates the potential of the CMOS technology for achieving the high-level of integration necessary for the small-sized atmospheric remote sensing receivers and small satellites.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor Degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Halonen, Kari, Supervisor, External person
    • Varonen, Mikko, Advisor
    Award date22 Feb 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • CMOS IC
    • millimeter-wave integrated circuits
    • MMIC
    • remote sensing
    • 5G
    • OtaNano


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