Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) Compatible Phase Shifters for Phased-Array Radars
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-034
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-034 TITLE: Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) Compatible Phase Shifters for Phased-Array Radars

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace


RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Develop Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) compatible phase shifters for phased array radar applications to lower system cost while maintaining radar performance.

DESCRIPTION: Modern active electronically scanned phased array radars provide outstanding capability and performance, but they are very expensive because of the need for Radio Frequency (RF) power amplifiers at each antenna element (RF amplifiers are a primary cost driver in modern radar). The Navy is pursuing a sub-array architecture which mitigates this restriction by splitting the power from a single, highly efficient, solid-state power amplifier to multiple antenna elements, thereby reducing cost.

Sub-array architecture opens completely new possibilities in radar design trade space which will result in flexible, scalable designs with increased efficiency and decreased parts-count. Savings in initial acquisition cost, maintenance cost, and operational cost (decreased power consumption through scalability and efficiency) are therefore realized without compromising radar performance. However, sharing amplifiers among multiple antenna elements requires a phase shifter for each. This imposes power handling challenges and places significant insertion loss requirements on the phase shifter. Successful demonstration of new phase shifter technology, consistent with the performance goals given herein, is therefore a key step toward affordable future radar.

MMIC compatible switches in various physical implementations have been offered as a critical control component for use in phased array radars employing digital phase shifters. MMIC compatible phase shifters bring the potential of low insertion loss per bit and ultra-linear performance, while requiring very low operating power. The Navy needs device innovations that build on proven design principles. The goal is to develop reliable MMIC-compatible phase shifters exhibiting increased power handling, low insertion loss, highly accurate insertion phase, minimal activation power, and extremely fast switching times. The Navy is seeking to develop MMIC-compatible phase shifters meeting military system reliability requirements that will support a 4-channel phase shifter network composed of a single RF input divided into 4 independent phase-shifted output channels. The phase shifters will be capable of output power levels of greater than 5W peak/channel, greater than 2W average/channel, switching delay of less than 1msec, phase resolution greater than 3 bits (4-bits would be desirable), and less than 1 dB total insertion loss between the input and the output of each phase shifter channel. Innovative approaches which can significantly exceed one or more of these goals are highly desirable. The proposed phase shifters should target S, C and X Band solid state radar applications.

RF micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) based phase shifters have been developed (ref. 1, 2, 3, 4). They are a valid approach, providing the RF-MEMS phase shifters can show significant improvement over the current state-of-the-art. In a MEMS approach, reliability is a key consideration that needs to be addressed. Innovations in material, process, and design are needed, which can lead to increased reliability and performance.

This technology will provide an enabling component that provides completely new possibilities in radar front-end architecture resulting in affordable, flexible, and scalable designs with increased efficiency and decreased parts-count. The developed technologies will lead to high performance radar systems at acceptable life cycle cost.

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for an innovative MMIC compatible phase shifter that meets the requirements detailed in the description section above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of their technology concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established by testing, analysis and/or modeling and simulation. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan and that addresses technical risk reduction and provide performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a prototype MMIC compatible phase shifter for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for the MMIC compatible phase shifter. The MMIC compatible phase shifter performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous phase-shift cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning their technology for Navy use. The company will develop a MMIC compatible phase shifter according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant Navy radar environment. The company will support the Navy in test and validation to certify and qualify their technology for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This technology also applies to various other radar applications such as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radars, law enforcement radar, Coast Guard radars, and commercial ship radars. The technology might also be applied to microwave and millimeter wave imaging systems.

1. Yuan, X., Peng, Z., Hwang, J. C. M., Forehand, D., and Goldsmith, C., "Acceleration of Dielectric Charging in RF MEMS Capacitive Switches," IEEE Transactions on Device and Materials Reliability, Vol. 6, No. 4, 2006. <>

2. Teti, J., Darreff, F., "MEMS 2-bit Phase-Shifter Failure Mode and Reliability Considerations for Large X-Band Arrays," IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory and Tech., Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 693-701, 2004. <>

3. Mansour, R., "RF MEMS-CMOS Device Integration", IEEE Microwave Magazine, January/February 2013.<>

4. Blondy, P., Peroulis, D., "Handling RF Power", IEEE Microwave Magazine, January/February 2013.<>

KEYWORDS: Radio Frequency micro-electromechanical systems (RF-MEMS), phased array radars, digital phase shifters, phase shifter for phased array radars, insertion loss in phased array radars, Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) Compatible

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