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Home > People > Faculty > Kamal Sarabandi > Research Areas & Projects > Miniature High-Impedance On-Chip Antennas

Miniature High-Impedance On-Chip Antennas

Miniaturized 9GHz slot antenna fabricated using 0.13mm CMOS process. (Left) Expanded view of the wafer corner showing two parallel ground plane each 0.6 mm thick separated by 0.6 mm (M4 and M5).
Miniaturized 9GHz slot antenna fabricated using 0.13mm CMOS process. (Left) Expanded view of the wafer corner showing two parallel ground plane each 0.6 mm thick separated by 0.6 mm (M4 and M5).

Researchers: Wonbin Hong, N. Behdad, M. Flynn, and Kamal Sarabandi

This project entails the design and demonstration of miniaturized antennas with the possibility of achieving complete integration with the RF front end, and ultimately achieving a single-chip wireless system. The antennas need to be placed above ground plane which limits their radiation efficiency and reduces the bandwidths. Reducing the size, increasing the bandwidth, and improving the efficiency of the antenna in the presence of the ground plane are problems that will be addressed.

This project has three main phases: first, to design a miniaturized antenna without a ground plane and with a fairly high efficiency to conserve as much power as possible; second, enhancing the bandwidth of the miniaturized antenna and increasing the input impedance of the antenna so that it can be matched to a very high impedance, and finally, the radiation efficiency of the antenna in the presence of a ground plane must be enhanced. The first task is fulfilled knowing that by a virtual enforcement of the required boundary condition at the end of a slot antenna, the area occupied by the resonant antenna can be reduced. Furthermore, loading the antenna with distributed inductors also reduces the antenna size. Combining these two techniques, results in a highly miniaturized slot antenna. Different bandwidth enhancement techniques that increase the BW while maintaining the size have also been demonstrated.

Miniaturization of the antenna will be achieved via alternative slot antenna geometries, for which the antenna impedance can be varied (and matched to any RF input) by attaching the RF front end circuit at the proper slot location. Design and fabrication of an on-chip antenna using 0.13mm CMOS process was demonstrated. To archive optimum overall energy, tradeoffs between digital, analog and mixed-signal signal processing will be investigated.

Prototype integrated antenna and LNA in 130nm CMOS.
Prototype integrated antenna and LNA in 130nm CMOS.

Integration of the antenna on-chip not only reduces size of the complete transceiver by more than an order of magnitude, but also offers new opportunities for system optimization. Because of silicon-substrate and metal interconnect losses, an on-chip antenna is less efficient than a conventional one, however on the other hand, an on-chip antenna gives more system design freedom. The input impedance need no longer be limited to 50 W , in fact our initial work indicates that an impedance of 80W is optimum. The use of an on-chip antenna eliminates RF board and RF connector losses. Since the antenna signal no longer passes through an I/O pad to the LNA input, electro-static discharge (ESD) protection can be eliminated from these sensitive nodes further reducing loss.