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John Long, Delft University of Technology


Future Directions for Silicon Radio Frequency Electronics

Thursday, April 25, 2013, 10:30-11:30
EEB 105
Host: Chris Rudell


Growth in mobile communication and computing technologies over the past two decades has been driven by innovations in system architectures, software technology, and silicon integration. Analog/RF circuit technologies relevant to the Grand Challenges of developing more efficient infrastructure, conserving energy, and delivering better health care will be described in this talk.

Radio frequency circuits designed in the most advanced CMOS technologies are used in almost all low-cost electronic products delivered to the mass market. The feat of doubling the number of transistors on a silicon IC every 18 months is projected to continue until we reach a gate length approaching 5nm (projected in ~ 2025-2030 by the ITRS). However, continued scaling presents the designer with what appears to be a new transistor with every generation as the transistor’s electrical behavior is affected by the changes required in fabrication. Circuit and systems designers must therefore develop scalable designs that can adapt to a dynamic technology platform.

Three examples from recent research into the design of adaptive, wideband, and scalable high-frequency electronics will be described in this talk. Wireless silicon sensors capable of measuring position and velocity accurately are necessary in many command and control applications. A recently developed FMCW radar transmitter IC incorporates the phase locked-loop, digitally-controlled oscillator, PA, and calibration circuits in 65nm CMOS. The ADPLL performs autonomous calibration and closed-loop DCO gain linearization in order to output a GHz-speed triangular chirp with high sweep linearity. The transmitter achieves excellent in-band/ out-of-band phase noise performance and ultra-low reference spur levels (-74 dBc). It occupies less silicon area, is scalable to future technology nodes, and consumes significantly less power than previous (all analog) realizations. Scenarios for improving health care often require low-power radios to monitor patients remotely. In the second example, a low-power, autonomous FM ultrawideband transceiver and power management unit that transfers data reliably at 100kbit/s and includes full on-chip digital calibration of the transceiver is described. Finally, fiber-optic technologies in the internet backbone are migrating towards coherent modulation schemes to increase data throughput. A silicon electronic driver capable of producing the 6Vp-p output required to drive a Mach-Zehnder optical modulator will be presented as the final example. Based on a distributed amplifier architecture, the novel input interface enables performance competitive with III-V semiconductor technologies (i.e., 15ps rise-fall times at 10Gb/s) in a silicon IC capable of large-scale transceiver integration.


John R. Long received the B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary in 1984, and the M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in Electronics from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, in 1992 and 1996, respectively. He was employed for 10 years by Bell-Northern Research, Ottawa involved in the design of ASICs for Gbit/s fibre-optic transmission systems, and from 1996 to 2001 as an Assistant and then Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. Since January 2002 he has been chair of the Electronics Research Laboratory at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. His current research interests include low-power and broadband/mm-wave transceiver circuitry for highly-integrated wireless applications, and electronics design for high-speed data communication systems.

Professor Long is a recipient of the NSERC Doctoral Prize, Douglas R. Colton and Governor General's Medals for research excellence, and Best Paper Awards from the ISSCC in 2000 and 2007, IEEE-BCTM 2003, the RFIC Symposium in 2006 and 2010, and EuMW conference in 2006. He is a member of the ESSCIRC technical program committee and has served as a member of the technical program committees for the ISSCC (RF subcommittee chair), IEEE-BCTM, EuMW, and ICUWB conferences. He was co-chair of the European microwave IC conferences in 2008 and 2012. He has also served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society, an Associate Editor of the IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, and as General Chair of the IEEE Bipolar/BiCMOS Circuits and Technology Meeting (BCTM 2006). He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the new IEEE virtual journal on RFICs (see Issue 1 on VCOs at:

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