Subharmonic Mixers in CMOS Microwave Integrated Circuits

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Jackson, Bradley
Electrical Engineering , Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits , RF CMOS Integrated Circuits , Subharmonic Mixers
This thesis explores the design and applications of subharmonic mixers in CMOS microwave integrated circuits. First, a 2x down-converting subharmonic mixer is demonstrated with a measured conversion gain of 8 dB using a 2.1 GHz RF signal. Extending the concept of the 2x subharmonic mixer, a 4x subharmonic mixer is proposed that operates in the 12 GHz Ku-band. This circuit is the first 4x subharmonic mixer in CMOS, and achieves a 6 dB conversion gain, which is the highest for any 4x subharmonic mixer regardless of circuit topology or fabrication technology. Furthermore, it achieves very high measured isolation between its ports (e.g. 4LO-RF: 59 dB). Since both the 2x and the 4x subharmonic mixers require a quadrature oscillator, a new oscillator circuit is presented that could be used with either of the aforementioned mixers. This quadrature oscillator uses active superharmonic coupling to establish the quadrature fundamental relationship. The oscillation frequency is 3.0 GHz and the measured output power is -6 dBm. A dual-band mixer/oscillator is also demonstrated that can operate as either a fundamental mixer or a subharmonic mixer depending on a control voltage. This circuit operates from 5.0 GHz to 6.0 GHz or from 9.8 GHz to 11.8 GHz by using either the fundamental output or the second harmonic output of the quadrature oscillator circuit described above and achieves conversion gain over both frequency bands. A novel frequency tripler circuit is presented based on a subharmonic mixer. This circuit uses the 2x subharmonic mixer discussed above, along with a feedforward fundamental cancellation circuit. The measured fundamental suppression is up to 30 dB and the conversion gain is up to 3 dB. Finally, a frequency divider circuit based on a subharmonic mixer is presented that divides the input signal frequency by a factor of three. This circuit uses a single-balanced version of the 2x subharmonic mixer described above in a regenerative divider topology. The measured input signal bandwidth is 300 MHz (5.2 GHz to 5.5 GHz) with an input power of -7 dBm and the maximum conversion gain is 0 dB.
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