Multilayer scalable coupler with high directivity
Basta, Nina Popovic
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This thesis addresses the design, analysis, and experimental validation of a high-directivity and high coupling microwave directional coupler. The motivating application is in broadband signal routing between cores of multi-core processors, where the delay of simple wire interconnects introduces unacceptable latency. The performance goals include scalability with frequency, a coupling coefficient of 3 dB, directivity larger than 40 dB, high return loss, low insertion loss below 3 dB at the center frequency, and small footprint. The approach to this problem taken in the thesis is a combination of edge and broad-side coupling in a multi-layer, multi-conductor microstrip coupled-line system. The two coupling mechanisms between neighboring pairs of coupled lines, along with appropriate end interconnections, allow for reduced size and design that achieves equal propagation velocities for the different modes supported by the five-conductor guiding structure that contribute to coupling. To validate the approach, a coupler designed for operation at 1 GHz is demonstrated to have a isolation of -22 dB with a coupling coefficient of 3\,dB and a return loss of -20 dB. The coupler is implemented on a FR-408 substrate with a permittivity of 3.66 and 1.17mm and 0.17mm thicknesses, and a total area of 12.65 cm^2. Three metalization layers are used in the design, with edge and broad-side coupled pairs of lines on the top two layers and diagonal end interconnects between the top and bottom lines. The coupler design is then scaled to 3 GHz by shortening the coupled-line length, and established -24 dB isolation, coupling of 3 dB, return loss of -20 dB, and has a total area of 6.9 cm^2. The analysis of the coupler shows that full-wave electromagnetic modeling agrees well with measurements and is necessary during the design process, while circuit analysis with built-in coupled-line models shows poorer agreement with experimental data. A tolerance analysis shows that the coupler performance is most sensitive to milling precision and separation between coupled-lines. Based on the measured and simulated results, it is shown that this type of coupler can be further scaled to higher frequencies and on-chip implementations for signal distribution in multi-core processors, or any other application where a number of components need to be interconnected with low latency and no reflection.