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Playground Radio Frequency

The advent of multi-standard and software-defined radios requires a new generation of transceiver architectures and corresponding CAD tools. Dealing with centre frequencies in the GHz range, the noise figure is a limitation for state-of-the-art designs. Many transceivers have to work in a mobile environment. Therefore low power consumption is mandatory which must be traded off with the circuit's linearity and gain.

The key to enable the realisation of single-chip integration of high-GHz wireless modules is resolving the shortcomings in available design flows. This requires novel CAD tools and mathematical methods to deal with analogue/digital mixed signal simulation, with challenges in system design and methodologies, parasitic extraction, device and EM simulation, model extraction and optimisation tools. ICESTARS will deliver the methodologies and prototype tools by combining the research results of several domains to achieve a clear view on the dependencies between different parts of the complete RF design.

Overview of the radiospectrum from very low frequency to infrared and the position of the SHF and EHF bands.

Defining RF

RF circuits are necessarily narrowband circuits, having bandwidths that are a small fraction of the center frequency (bandwidth-definition). For communication system engineers, RF signals are not information but are used as carriers of the information-bearing signals in wireless applications. RF becomes an antonym of the word “based-band” (application-based defintion). The size of RF hardware is not negligible compared to the wavelength of the electromagnetic (EM) waves that they process (size-based definition).

Collaborative Research

Radio Frequency design is a truly interdisciplinary task ranging from the theoretical background of communication and microwave theory to IC technology and IC design.