New Millimeter-wave Applications Drive Demand & Generate New Challenges
Microwave and millimeter-wave applications beyond 6 GHz have garnered extensive interest in the last few years, largely due to growth in 5G cellular, micro-satellite constellations, millimeter-wave backhaul, radar, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications where increased bandwidth and reduced spectrum congestion are critical. Additional technology trends that embrace increased frequencies include active electronically steered arrays (AESA) for military radar, V-band automotive radar, and V-band/E-band backhaul.
5G and IoT wireless applications are moving to 20 ~ 60 GHz frequency bands to overcome atmospheric attenuation and enhance throughput in the millimeter-wave spectrum. Advanced active antenna systems (AAS) are being developed that incorporate beamforming, multi-input multi-output (MIMO), and carrier aggregation (CA) technologies, requiring greatly advanced and complex antenna systems than previous cellular or wireless IoT.
These new technologies come with new challenges than sub-6 GHz technologies. There is a new realm of expertise, equipment, and range of physical considerations for development of competitive technology that meets both customer and user requirements and expectations.
Manufacturing Success In the Millimeter-wave Era
Big Opportunity Means Big Stakes: Years of producing a 77GHz Frequency Converter Module, RFE’s engagement with a large OEM led to the development of new Automotive Radar Test Systems with a complete range of capabilities with > 100 fielded systems achieving 100% satisfaction and reliability.
V-band Downconverter Woes: A U.S. based Radiometer provider faced obsolescence of an essential V-band downconverter that was the core of their product. Unable to source any viable replacement after more than a year of research and testing, the provided RFE with a physical replica. RFE delivered a fully functional unit with updated synthesizers for backward compatibility, field replaceability, and enhancements to the K-band and V-band downconverters for reduced system drift.
Delivering Much-needed Expertise & Turn-key Manufacturing for Millimeter-wave Systems: RFE, formerly Spinnaker Microwave, has been offering products for challenging applications since 1991. With a complete design, manufacturing, quality control, tuning, and testing services capabilities, RFE enables companies without such capabilities to reach a growing market and bring high-demand products to awaiting customers.
- Established product portfolio
- Custom designs & modifications of existing technology
- Re-engineering component or supplier obsolescence
- Low-Volume / Turnkey Manufacturing
- Agile and flexible second source manufacturer
- AS9100/ISO 9001:2015 (In process)
- ITAR Registered (M35461)
- Small Business Concern
- NAICS: 334419
- CAGE Code: 7AZJ1
- RoHS Compliant
Design & Manufacturing Capabilities
- 5 GHz to >90 GHz
- Frequency Converters/Receivers
- Radar Systems
- Custom/Specialty RF Assemblies
- Hi-Rel / Weatherproof designs
Enabling Next-generation Millimeter-wave Device Manufacture: RFE’s expertise and familiarity with a wide range of precision millimeter-wave systems results in end products that outperform industry competitors. RFE offers experience and expertise combined with turn-key manufacturing or a-la-carte manufacturing services to fill the gap in any millimeter-wave design or production cycle.
See the examples below:
77 GHz FMCW Radar Warning Receiver: Today’s automotive and transportation systems rely on high-reliability / high-performance radar. Target tracking, collision threat prediction, configurability and cost along are critical. In conjunction with Mobile Technology Solutions (MTS), RFE developed a 77 GHz frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar system that exceeds the standards in the marketplace. With over 150 meters of range, RFE’s automotive radar platform is unaffected by vehicle glass and a custom designed antenna/lens system eliminates the alignment issues common with strip-line configurations.
Broadband Fast Tuning Miniature Synthesizer: Microwave and millimeter-wave radar, radios, and instruments are built using frequency synthesizers. With more high frequency applications, synthesizers are now needed that exhibit wide bandwidth in smaller form factors than previous technologies. Predicting this emerging need, RFE has developed a broadband fast tuning miniature synthesizer that operates from 0.1 ~ 20 GHz with < 50µs tuning speed in a tiny 3 x 3 x 0.7” package with spurious content down to -60 dBc, phase noise below -65 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz and rugged operating temperature range of -45 to +85 deg C.
RFE’s customers include commercial and industrial OEMs, as well as DoD contractors. If you require a design or manufacturing service that performs as designed, RFE can be your go-to manufacturing services provider.
Originally published in Microwave Journal, February 2020 Issue.