New measurements for emerging electronics: Benchmarking high-performance, energy-efficient electronics
From laptops and smartphones to security scanning and medical diagnostics, many devices now require radio-frequency (RF) electronic circuits to operate. As demand for higher data rates grows, existing RF systems and devices incorporating new materials (graphene, for example) need testing at ever higher performance levels. The vector network analyser (VNA) is the key instrument used to assess RF systems and components such as the waveguides that are used for signal transmission. To achieve the higher measurement accuracies needed by industry, new and improved calibration methods are required which are traceable to the SI units.
This project developed traceable calibration methods for RF electronics measurements, including hardware for the characterisation of VNAs, waveguides, non-linear amplifiers in 5G communications, and RF components with “extreme” impedances (based on new materials such as graphene).
The project developed:
- Traceable test methods and reference devices to characterise the high frequency waveguides that are used for signal transmission in electronic devices
- A reference printed circuit board (PCB) to enable the removal of testing contributions from assessments of electronic circuits. This demonstrated the feasibility of PCB integration into other circuitry for built-in, ongoing device performance monitoring
- A reference device enabling large-signal distortions to be quantified during high-power transmissions, which is important during 5G communication amplifier prototyping.
This project has successfully developed calibration methods and reference devices to help meet the current and emerging requirements of radio frequency (RF) device manufacturers. The project’s VNA calibration methods and best practice information have been incorporated into a recent revision of the EURAMET Calibration Guidelines No 12. To address problems caused by poor component compatibility, the project investigated connection sizing issues and results from these studies have contributed to a new series of IEEE standards (the 1785 series).
These are significant steps towards the introduction of greater measurement harmonisation in RF electronics. Newly available measurement services for the traceable calibration of RF transmission components (coaxial lines and waveguides) will also support developing RF technologies such as 5G communications. Building on these achievements, further EMPIR funding was subsequently secured for the follow-on projects 14IND10 Metrology for 5G communications (MET5G), and 14IND02 Microwave measurements for planar circuits and components (PlanarCal).