FuSE-TG: Heterogeneous module, array antenna, and IC co-design for energy-efficient D-band wireless communications and radar

Dates: 06/15/23 โ€“ 05/31/25
Award Amount:ย  $300,000.00
Award #: 2235336

PI: Wooram Lee (Penn State)
Co-PIs: Mark Rodell, Chung-Tse Wu, Kevin u


Future wireless communication and radar technologies above 100 GHz will enable high-speed data transmission and high-resolution radar sensing, which will be the foundation to enable people and things to connect and interact with one another across physical and virtual spaces seamlessly. One of the key enablers for these technologies is a large-scale antenna array module, where multiple radio transmitters and receivers are integrated with a group of antennas for high-speed data transmission over a longer distance. This project will address the key co-design and integration challenges of implementing a large-scale antenna array module above 100 GHz. The scope of the proposed co-design study covers both high-performance-driven integration platforms for potential defense-related applications and volume-driven cost-effective packaging technologies for commercial use cases. The research insights from this project can be adopted via industry engagement to develop new process technologies and therefore will benefit a wide range of semiconductor manufacturing companies in the United States. The success of the project will also help maintain the continuous leadership of the United States in wireless technologies and semiconductors by training students into innovative engineers.

To overcome severe path loss and limited transistor performance above 100 GHz, silicon-based large-scale phased array transceivers are essential to realizing D-band (110-170 GHz) wireless communications and radar. For the development of D-band phased array modules, the small size of antenna-in-package (AiP), which scales down with wavelength, poses electromagnetic, thermal, and manufacturing challenges. To address these, we propose a holistic IC/package/antenna/system co-design approach based on heterogeneous integration for a scalable phased array module above 100 GHz. We will study a scalable D-band aperiodic phased array architecture without the constraint of ?/2 antenna spacing as a stepstone example to establish our teaming environment and demonstrate the proposed approaches. For the heterogeneous integration of different chiplets and antenna arrays at frequencies>100 GHz, we will investigate emerging packaging technologies such as fan-out wafer-level packaging (FOWLP) and SLIC to address the combined electromagnetic, IC/signal routing density, and thermal challenges. We will also develop new D-band antenna design principles using substrate-integrated waveguide (SIW) based composite right/left-handed (CRLH) metamaterial resonator for wide bandwidth and dual-polarization support. These collaborative efforts will pave the way for the development of a scalable phased array module above 100 GHz with more element count, higher energy efficiency, better thermal management, and greater manufacturability. This will be the key enabler to realizing next-generation ultra-wideband wireless communications and radar that offer the potential for revolutionary applications including industrial automation, immersive augmented and virtual reality, holographic telepresence, and self-driving cars.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.