To enable the next size and cost leap for communications systems, researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research’s (A*STAR’s) Institute of Microelectronics (IME) have developed a compact, silicon-based cavity-backed slot (CBS) antenna. Compared to on-chip antennas working at the same frequency (135 GHz), the antenna purportedly demonstrates 30X stronger signal transmission. Measuring just 1.6 x 1.2 mm, it is expected to help realize a wireless-communications system with a very small form factor. At the same time, the antenna should cost almost two-thirds less than a conventional CBS antenna.

Together with other millimeter-wave building blocks, the antenna can support wireless data rates to 20 Gb/s. This is more than 200 times faster than IEEE 802.11n, which can support data rates of more than 100 Mb/s. Much of the antenna’s performance advantages can be traced to the use of a polymer filling instead of air. According to Dr. Hu Sanming, an IME researcher, this approach enables more than 70% antenna size shrinkage as well as high gain of 5.68 dBi at 135 GHz. It can also be formed on a flat surface, making it well suited for mass production.

The research team also created a three-dimensional (3D) architecture to integrate the antenna with active circuits. According to Dr. Je Minkyu, Principal Investigator of IME’s Integrated Circuits and Systems Laboratory, the resulting millimeter-wave system-in-package (SiP) solution provides high performance, a reduced footprint, and low electromagnetic interference (EMI). The combination of the antenna technology and 3D architecture may provide the needed form and function for mass production of millimeter-wave systems.