MMICs enabling next generation communications
for 5G and beyond
VIPER RF designs MMIC products for microwave & millimeter-wave applications.
Since 2008, we have been supplying solutions to meet a wide range of challenges set by our Defence clients. Solutions include high power amplifiers and highly integrated multi-function MMICs operating from S-Band to W-Band frequencies.
The company has worked extensively in the Communications market sector since incorporation. Projects include product development for handset components, packaged MMICs for point-to-point links including component designs for E-Band radio. In recent years the focus has been on the development of parts for 5G systems in the sub-6 and millimeter-wave bands using both GaAs and GaN technologies. VIPER RF has entered into discussions on research and development for 6G applications.
The Space market is a continually evolving sector for VIPER RF. The company has provided solutions into commercial satellites with the first VIPER RF products launched into Space in 2019. We have several development projects with ESA where state-of-the-art MMICs are being developed; these projects are focused on providing world-leading performance while maintaining the highest levels of reliability. We have developed some of the best in class GaN and GaAs parts in these developments.
The company is always looking to evolve with new and exciting applications in the field of microwave and millimeter-waves. Collaborative work with leading universities include high efficiency Doherty amplifiers and Terahertz communications.
Frequency converter & amplifier MMICs for LEO satellite constellation
From the receipt of a design brief in 2016, VIPER RF performed custom designs of multiple MMICs.
Supply of packaged MMICs for a satcomm application commenced in 2018 with first VIPER RF parts launched into Space in 2019. Since then, over 10,000 MMIC have been supplied into this mega-constellation application
Development of a microwave source for innovative spacecraft propulsion system
VIPERRF is participating in a consortium led by AVS-UK developing an innovative system for the electric propulsion of spacecraft.
Overall goals of the UK Space Agency National Space Technology Programme (NSTP) funded AQUAJET|NJET|XJET project include demonstrating improved thruster performance with xenon, scaling testing up to the 200-400 W power range, achieving stable operation with water and ammonia, and testing of a custom built solid state microwave generator in vacuum. VIPER RF have design and manufactured a compact and high-efficiency microwave generator delivering approximately 200W of CW power at S-Band in vacuum.
Ref: "XJET: Design upgrade and preliminary characterization for an electrodeless ECR thruster", Azevedo et al., Space Propulsion 2020, Estoril Portugal, 8-12 Feb 2021
Robust 5-18GHz GaN Low Noise Amplifier
A state-of-the art robust GaN limiting-LNA for applications including next generation Electronic Warfare T/R modules has been developed. The circuit relies on a balanced design technique and exploits an innovative biasing circuit scheme to control the output power compression characteristic. The MMICs operates across the 5 to 18 GHz band, with an average noise figure of 3.5 dB and an associated gain of 13 dB; output power is clamped around 13 dBm up to 4W of input excitation, while guaranteeing a minimum OP1 dB of 10 dBm. VIPER RF has supplied several thousands of these MMICs to a world-leading defence client. The part compliments the newly released product range of GaAs LNAs operating from C-Band to Ka-Band.
71-76GHz Low Noise Amplifier
A state-of-the-art low noise amplifier operating from 71GHz to 76GHz using a commercial GaAs MHEMT technology has been developed . The gain of the three-stage amplifier was measured to be 24dB, The noise figure of the LNA MMIC integrated in a WR12 waveguide module was measured to be 2.1dB-2.3dB and with return losses of approximately -13dB. The part is comparable to the best in class at W-Band
Ref: "Design of a Low Noise Amplifier MMIC from 71 – 76GHz using GaAs mHEMT technology", P. Deshpande et al., 2020 50th European Microwave Conference (EuMC)
Development of D-band MMICs for next generation 5G/6G point-to-point radio links
A MMIC chipset has been developed for next generation 5G/6G point-to-point communications. A highly integrated transmitter and receiver operating up to 140GHz has been developed. Each part has integrated LO multiplication, IF gain control, mixing, filtering and D-Band gain functionality on a single-chip. The parts are based on a high performance 0.1um D-mode GaAs pHEMT technology. The MMICs have been successfully integrated into a 300m D-band radio link.
Highly Integrated GaAs and GaN MMICs
Keynote - Invited Paper
The development of a number of GaN and GaAs MMIC high power and highly integrated solutions covering a range of space, commercial and defense applications were presented. Reported designs were based on developments from C-Band up to W-band frequencies where focus has been placed on maintaining and maximising parameters such as power added efficiency (PAE), output power, cost and high levels of integration. Activities to de-risk the development of highly integrated parts such as hybrid prototyping and active model verification were discussed. The trade-offs between performances of GaAs and GaN MMICs were considered and limitations in terms of output power performance, PAE and levels of integration were presented
Phased array transmitter unit for next generation 5G Smart Cities communication systems
An Innovate UK funded project with a Turkish system integrator on the development of a multi-channel transmitter for 5G phased array radio systems.
Several MMIC chips developed include a 28GHz amplitude and phase control part (six bit phase and amplitude control) and Doherty amplifiers. The chips were configured in a SIP with integrated antenna to provide a four channel transmitter solution for 5G applications.
The development of a complete (on board, on ground) Low Earth Orbit system solution to allow Ka-Band propagation measurements and Variable Coding and Modulation (VCM) demonstration through multiple ground stations. It provides a step towards the adoption of the 25.5 to 27GHz band for Earth Observation (EO) downlink from LEO.
This paper contains key findings of an ongoing study conducted by SSTL and VIPER RF for ESA with the ultimate goal of initiating a number of on board hardware developments and rapidly deploying this technology on small satellite platforms.