Development of Monolithic SiGe and Packaged RF MEMS High-Linearity Five-bit High-Low Pass Phase Shifters for SoC X-band T/R Modules
Morton, Matthew Allan
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A comprehensive study of the High-pass/Low-pass topology has been performed, increasing the understanding of error sources arising from bit layout issues and fabrication tolerances. This included a detailed analysis of error sources in monolithic microwave phase shifters due to device size limitations, inductor parasitics, loading effects, and non-ideal switches. Each component utilized in the implementation of a monolithic high-low pass phase shifter was analyzed, with its influence on phase behavior shown in detail. An emphasis was placed on the net impact on absolute phase variation, which is critical to the system performance of a phased array radar system. The design of the individual phase shifter filter sections, and the influence of bit ordering on overall performance was also addressed. A variety of X-band four- and five-bit phase shifters were fabricated in a 200 GHz SiGe HBT BiCMOS technology platform, and further served to validate the analysis and design methodology. The SiGe phase shifter can be successfully incorporated into a single-chip T/R module forming a system-on-a-chip (SoC). Reduction in the physical size of transmission lines was shown to be a possibility with spinel magnetic nanoparticle films. The signal transmission properties of phase lines treated with nanoparticle thin films were examined, showing the potential for significant size reduction in both delay line and High-pass/Low-pass phase topologies. Wide-band, low-loss, and near-hermetic packaging techniques for RF MEMS devices were presented. A thermal compression bonding technique compatible with standard IC fabrication techniques was shown, that uses a low temperature thermal compression bonding method that avoids plastic deformations of the MEMS membrane. Ultimately, a system-on-a-package (SoP) approach was demonstrated that utilized packaged RF MEMS switches to maintain the performance of the SiGe phase shifter with much lower loss. The extremely competitive performance of the MEMS-based High-pass/Low-pass phase shifter, despite the lack of the extensive toolkits and commercial fabrication facilities employed with the active-based SiGe phase shifters, confirms both the effectiveness of the detailed phase error analysis presented in this work and the robust nature of the High-pass/Low-pass topology.