2019 IEEE International Symposium on Phased Array Systems and Technology

October 15 – 18, 2019, Waltham, MA USA

Tutorial: T/R Modules and Array Electronics

October 15, 2019 – 8 a.m. – 12 noon


Dr. William Weedon, Applied Radar

Dr. Douglas Carlson, MACOM

Dr. Gabriel Rebeiz, University of California -San Diego


Part 1: Digitally-Enabled Phased Array Components and Subsystems (Dr. William Weedon)

The past 20 years has seen a massive shift in phased array technology from primarily analog GaAs-based phased T/R modules consisting of discrete MMIC amplifier and phase-shifter chips to newer, more advanced components including GaN PA’s, multi-channel SiGe phase shifter/attenuator chips, CMOS drivers and even CMOS RF chips, and in some cases direct RF sampling using CMOS technology. Where chip-and-wire manufacturing once dominated, the preference now is towards surface-mount pick-and-place and integration of multiple chips into a ball grid array (BGA) or land grid array (LGA) to reduce assembly costs and increase reliability. Applications that were once dominated by defense radar applications including fighter aircraft, missiles guidance, electronic warfare jammers and passive sensors, and ship based radar are now including low-cost and much higher-volume applications such as 5G wireless arrays with massive MIMO and low-cost unmanned array sensors. The closely-held phased array components that were once limited to US defense contractors and their allies are now manufactured across the globe. Many more applications are also pushing towards millimeter-wave arrays in order to increase bandwidth and decrease array size. This talk will discuss the paradigm shift towards the lower cost, higher volume, higher frequencies, and higher performance phased arrays, and the enabling technologies.

Part 2: Commercial Manufacturing of T/R Modules (Dr. Douglas Carlson)

Transmit/Receive (T/R) modules are the defining building block for a broad spectrum of active antenna applications from Military Phased Array Radar, or Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESA) to massive MIMO antennas for 5G cellular communications.  The performance of the T/R module is determinate in setting the performance characteristics of the target system.  Often the T/R module is a major driver of overall system cost.  In addition, the proliferation of system architectures and applications has resulted in a broad array of T/R module realizations.

Historically T/R modules have been developed and used extensively in defense Radar, Communications and Electronic Warfare systems.  Performance, system CONOPS and environmental factors drove the technology base with a lesser emphasis on cost.  Solutions were dominated by classical “chip-and-wire” construction using bare die building blocks to realize the functional block diagram.  While these solutions have achieved extremely impressive performance, it has come at a high cost per T/R channel. 

The clear performance advantage, which phased arrays bring, has driven a desire for rapid adoption in the civil sector.  MACOM, for many years, has focused on utilizing commercial manufacturing practices coupled with the heterogeneous integration of semiconductor technologies to realize high performance RF solutions for a broad array of end markets.  We have applied these approaches to design and manufacture of T/R modules and full AESA Tiles for both communications and sensing arrays.  We have addressed applications in multiple frequencies spanning a wide range of output power.  These solutions have utilized both convective and liquid cooling.

This session will cover critical design and manufacturing considerations for the base semiconductor components, block diagram, and T/R module realization.

Part 3: 5G Millimeter-Wave and the Rise of Directive Communications: Phased-Array Designs, Chips and System Integration (Dr. Gabriel Rebeiz)

Due to the increased demand for data, there is a need for millimeter-wave base-station and mobile-user phased-arrays which can provide high-capacity data services using directional links (5G). These 16, 32 and 64-element phased-arrays have wide bandwidths (24 to 29 GHz), can be dual-polarized with MIMO capabilities, generally need calibration for low-sidelobe patterns, must handle 64QAM and 256QAM signals with low distortion, and be low cost and amenable for high volume production and test. This talk will summarize some of the phased-array designs at 20-70 GHz together with the related chips developed for this purpose, and will show real system demonstrations at 100 meters to several kms. 


Dr. William H. Weedon is President/CEO of Applied Radar, Inc., an R&D firm which he founded in 1996. The company has a track record of innovation with over 30 DoD SBIR contracts and other DoD and commercial contracts. Applied Radar specializes in the development of advanced radar systems and components, primarily for DoD customers such as the US Air Force, the US Army, US Navy, DARPA, SOCOM and Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Dr. Weedon has served as Principal Investigator on numerous DoD research and development contracts in areas covering antenna design and modeling, RF transceiver development at X-band, Ku-band and W-band, high-speed real-time digital processing hardware, and radar and electronic system development. His work also includes radar and EW signal processing and communication system development. This has resulted in numerous publications, technical reports and several US patent applications. Dr. Weedon received a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering (Summa Cum Laude) in 1989 and MSEE in 1990 from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994 under the direction of Prof. Weng Cho Chew. He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Eta Kappa Nu honor societies, is formerly Co-Chairman (1999-2003) of the Boston section of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society, and is a member of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques society. Currently, he is the Conference Vice-Chair of the 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Phased Array Systems and Technology to be held in Waltham, MA in October 2019, and Sponsorship Chair of the IEEE Radar Conference to be held in Boston, MA in April, 2019. Dr. Weedon was awarded the IEEE-USA Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement in 2013.

Dr. Douglas J. Carlson received his ScB in Electronic Material from Brown University in 1983 and his ScD in Electronic Materials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989. Dr. Carlson subsequently served on the research staffs of MIT and Bell Laboratory, Murray Hill, NJ.  His research focus was on fabrication and characterization of semiconductors and superconductors for microwave applications.  In 1990, Dr. Carlson joined M/A-COM, Inc. in its Advanced Semiconductor Division.  In his career at M/A-COM he has held Engineering, Operations, Product Management, and Business Development positions.  Dr. Carlson’s currently serves as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the RF and Microwave Business Unit.  In this role, Dr. Carlson is responsible for the execution and strategy for MACOM’s core RF and Microwave business.  This area encompasses technologies as diverse a RF Diodes to AESA Tiles.  Dr. Carlson has published over 40 articles in peer reviewed Journals.  He has authored numerous invited papers and invited presentations on the topics of Advanced Semiconductors, Packaging, Low Cost Manufacturing and Phased Array Radar.

Professor Gabriel M. Rebeiz is Member of the National Academy, Distinguished Professor and the Wireless Communications Industry Endowed Chair at the University of California, San Diego. He is an IEEE Fellow, and is the recipient of the IEEE Daniel E. Nobel Medal, the IEEE MTT Microwave Prize (2000 and 2014), the IEEE MTT 2010 Distinguished Educator Award and the IEEE Antennas and Propagation 2011 John D. Kraus Antenna Award. His group has lead the development of complex RFICs for phased array applications from X-band to W-band, culminating recently in wafer-scale integration with high-efficiency on-chip antennas. His phased array work is now used by most companies developing complex communication and radar systems. He has graduated 100 PhD students and post-doctoral fellows.