Energy efficient RF transmitter design using enhanced breakdown voltage SOI-CMOS compatible MESFETs

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The high cut-off frequency of deep sub-micron CMOS technologies has enabled the integration of radio frequency (RF) transceivers with digital circuits. However, the challenging point is the integration of RF

The high cut-off frequency of deep sub-micron CMOS technologies has enabled the integration of radio frequency (RF) transceivers with digital circuits. However, the challenging point is the integration of RF power amplifiers, mainly due to the low breakdown voltage of CMOS transistors. Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) metal semiconductor field effect transistors (MESFETs) have been introduced to remedy the limited headroom concern in CMOS technologies. The MESFETs presented in this thesis have been fabricated on different SOI-CMOS processes without making any change to the standard fabrication steps and offer 2-30 times higher breakdown voltage than the MOSFETs on the same process. This thesis explains the design steps of high efficiency and wideband RF transmitters using the proposed SOI-CMOS compatible MESFETs. This task involves DC and RF characterization of MESFET devices, along with providing a compact Spice model for simulation purposes. This thesis presents the design of several SOI-MESFET RF power amplifiers operating at 433, 900 and 1800 MHz with ~40% bandwidth. Measurement results show a peak power added efficiency (PAE) of 55% and a peak output power of 22.5 dBm. The RF-PAs were designed to operate in Class-AB mode to minimize the linearity degradation. Class-AB power amplifiers lead to poor power added efficiency, especially when fed with signals with high peak to average power ratio (PAPR) such as wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA). Polar transmitters have been introduced to improve the efficiency of RF-PAs at backed-off powers. A MESFET based envelope tracking (ET) polar transmitter was designed and measured. A low drop-out voltage regulator (LDO) was used as the supply modulator of this polar transmitter. MESFETs are depletion mode devices; therefore, they can be configured in a source follower configuration to have better stability and higher bandwidth that MOSFET based LDOs. Measurement results show 350 MHz bandwidth while driving a 10 pF capacitive load. A novel polar transmitter is introduced in this thesis to alleviate some of the limitations associated with polar transmitters. The proposed architecture uses the backgate terminal of a partially depleted transistor on SOI process, which relaxes the bandwidth and efficiency requirements of the envelope amplifier in a polar transmitter. The measurement results of the proposed transmitter demonstrate more than three times PAE improvement at 6-dB backed-off output power, compared to the traditional RF transmitters.