Operation in the millimetre-wave (mm-wave) bands offers you capabilities in a compact form that are not possible at lower frequencies. With over 30 years of experience in complex RF and antenna design, Plextek has dominated the mm-wave technology market from addressing challenges in autonomous vehicles, to object detection and security systems. Solutions have included both research projects through to product development, covering radar sensors, communication systems and monitoring capabilities.
New, emerging technologies have opened up the world of millimetre-waves to more cost-sensitive applications.
- Integrated mm-wave antenna and array design: The antenna is an important—but often overlooked—component in most RF systems; for systems operating in the mm-wave bands, this is especially so. Achieving wideband performance for low-profile designs as well as high efficiency is particularly challenging. Our experience has shown that designing a mm-wave system around the antenna solution and integrating with the circuit design directly (removing lossy and expensive interconnects), whilst challenging, is often the most effective way to achieve the best overall system performance.
- mm-Wave module design: Often large systems require separate, high-performance modules to carry out a dedicated task. At Plextek we have experience designing mm-wave modules using both packaged and unpackaged components, such as die-based transceiver designs, to achieve the desired performance.
- mm-Wave frequency synthesiser design: To operate in the mm-wave bands, it is necessary to generate a mm-wave signal. Frequency synthesisers are the basis for most RF systems, so performance is critical. Depending on application, different requirements need to be prioritised. These could be: low phase noise, wide tuning range, low harmonic and spurious products, precise frequency accuracy, fast settling time and frequency synthesis with direct modulation.
- mm-Wave PCB design: We have carried out a number of different PCB designs using a variety of substrates, builds and finishes operating at mm-wave frequencies for cost-effective and high-performance solutions alike. We have pushed the boundaries of PCB technology to extract the best possible performance, reliability and cost reduction for our clients.
- Printed mm-wave components: PCB technology has given us the ability to etch features directly out of copper for a low-cost implementation of passive components, such as printed filters, directional couplers, power splitters, baluns or impedance transformers etc. Whilst circuit simulation provides a reasonably accurate prediction into operation of such components at lower frequencies, 3D electro-magnetic simulation is vital at mm-wave frequencies. At Plextek, we have access to different electro-magnetic simulation tools, which allow us to select the most appropriate tool for the job.
- Cost-sensitive solutions: Often our customers require highly cost-sensitive mm-wave radar devices without compromising on performance. For these applications we often use an inexpensive, highly integrated single chip mm-wave radar sensor with embedded processing from Texas Instruments. Combining this chip with an optimized antenna solution produces devices which are more cost-effective with low power consumption. Further info can be found in our ‘Downloads’ section.
“Working at millimetre wave frequencies is particularly challenging, not only to achieve good performance but to even get the system to function at all. As a result, mm-wave systems can be very unforgiving, so it is even more important to carefully consider each aspect of a design. However, the benefits of working at this frequency make this extra effort all the more worthwhile”
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