New technology from scientists at IBM could help alleviate data bottleneck issues for mobile communications and enable advanced radar-imaging technology to be reduced to the size of a notebook computer.

IBM researchers have unveiled a phased-array transceiver that “contains all of the millimeter-wave components necessary” for both high data-rate communications and advanced-resolution radar imaging applications. Implemented as a unit tile with four phased array integrated circuits, the packaged transceiver operates at frequencies in the range of 90-94 GHz and can be placed alongside others on a circuit board to create larger phased arrays.  Each of the four ICs features 32 receive elements and 16 transmit elements with dual outputs to support 16 dual-polarized antennas.

The new scalable phased-array solution, which offers electronic beam steering and the bandwidth to support Gb/s wireless communications, could replace E-band solutions consisting of “multi-chip modules and bulky mechanically aligned antennas” currently being used to alleviate backhaul congestion issues, IBM said. Allocated by the Federal Communications Commission, the E-band covers the frequency ranges of 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz and 92-95 GHz and enables wireless data transfer at high rates.

Using 94GHz radar imaging technology could also help improve aircraft pilots’ ability to navigate through rain, fog, dust and other vision-impairing obstructions, IBM said. The design’s support for two antenna polarizations could also provide an additional advantage when navigating through fog and ran.

“This transceiver presents the highest level of integration achieved so far in a silicon-based solution for millimeter-wave frequency applications,” Dr. Alberto Valdes-Garcia, a researcher in the Communication and Computation Subsystems Group at IBM Research, said. “It is a key step toward phased-array systems of the future that are scalable, low-volume, lightweight and low-cost.”

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