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Photo: Heinz Nixdorf Institut

Flexible Electronic-Photonic Integrated Circuit Sensor Platform [EPIC-Sense]

One of the main challenges of current research in sensor systems is the harnessing of the frequency range above 110 GHz (D-band, 110 – 170 GHz up to the THz regime), which offers an unprecedented amount of available bandwidth, as well as a significant miniaturization potential through wavelength-based scaling and additional integration of components such as antenna structures. Especially the implementation of massive-channel count arrays in a parallelized fashion offers the possibility to realize robust and powerful super large-bandwidth scanning and 3-dimensional-capable sensor systems. By leveraging on the principle of scalable cascadable ICs such sensor arrays with many channels can be constructed with a record 3-D resolution and range performance. For the successful demonstration of discussed transceivers in these envisioned multi-channel super large bandwidth 3-D sensing arrays a number of current challenges need to be overcome. A fully functional system of such high bandwidth requires the following features:5. Low phase noise stabilized signal source with high output power6. Synchronized low loss flexible carrier signal distribution concept for many channels7. Extremely broadband true-time delay elements to avoid beam squinting etc. 8. Sufficiently broadband RF amplification and up/down-conversion paths In general, some the above topics have been partially addressed, using discrete implementations with resulting limited performance or through extremely bulky and cost intensive laboratory measurement setups. This proposal aims to address all of the above challenges base on an innovative multi-domain system approach that uses IHP’s electronic-photonic integrated circuit (EPIC) technology platform for a monolithic integration. The key concepts of this proposal are:4. Integrated circuit architecture using electronic and photonic building blocks5. Monolithic integration for highest bandwidth and lowest interconnect losses6. Scalable and flexible system conceptFor this, a signal source + scalable transceiver chipset that operates the full D-band from 110 to 170 GHz shall be investigated. The concept is based on a novel highly integrated electronic-photonic integrated circuit (EPIC) integration approach. The frequency range has been chosen to operate at the current technological limit of the silicon EPIC technology and to facilitate opportunities of comparison to traditional all-electronic design approaches to highlight the superiority of this novel concept.

Professor Dr.-Ing. Dietmar Kissinger
Ulm University
Faculty of Engineering, Computer Sciences and Psychology
Institute of Electronic Devices and Circuits

Professor Dr.-Ing. Robert Weigel
Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg
Department "Elektrotechnik-Elektronik-Informationstechnik"
Chair "Technische Elektronik"

Professor Dr.-Ing. Lars Zimmermann
TU Berlin
Institute "Hochfrequenz- und Halbleiter-Systemtechnologien"
Field "Hochfrequenztechnik - Photonik"