Summer months usually spell relief for overworked employees (in the form of vacations), and loss of productivity for employers (juggling work schedules because of those vacations). Some companies make the best of this conflict by subsidizing vacations for their staffs: a case in point is oscillator/synthesizer supplier Micro Lambda Wireless (Fremont, CA) which will ship its full crew and their families to Hawaii this summer as a way of saying thanks.

For most employees, vacation is a time to escape their working routines and take a break from the folks they see most of the year. This "free" time is ripe with opportunities to finish that back deck, or fix those broken windows, or any number of little tasks around the home. It is also a chance to read a few books and increase one's skills and knowledge. For that reason, this month's column features a brief look at some of the better technical books released during the past year—books that can enrich an RF engineer's practical knowledge, and reward an astute employer with improved productivity upon that return from vacation.

For example, a technology that is rapidly gaining ground among RF designers is well covered in RF MEMS: Theory, Design, and Technology by Gabriel Rebeiz (Wiley, www.wiley.com, see June, p. 74 for a review). The text includes mechanical and electromagnetic (EM) modeling, design of antennas, filters, phase shifters, switches, oscillators, and inductors, and several case studies in MEMS design.

For those seeking more on passive components, Integrated Passive Component Technology edited by Richard Ulrich and Leonard Schaper (Wiley) does a nice job of explaining how to optimize the performance of capacitors, inductors, and resistors on monolithic and other substrates. On the active side, Modern Microwave Transistors: Theory, Design, and Performance by Frank Schwierz and Juin Liou (Wiley) is an excellent roundup of all major transistor types, from older silicon bipolars and MOSFETs to emerging silicon-carbide (SiC) and gallium-nitride (GaN) MESFETs. At the system level, Microwave Radio Links: From Theory to Design by Carlos Salema (Wiley) packs about 28 years of teaching experience on telecommunications into just under 500 pages.

Two respected names in RF software, Rowan Gilmore and Les Besser, have assembled Practical RF Circuit Design for Modern Wireless System (Vol. 2, Artech House, www.artechhouse.com), with a focus on active devices, amplifiers, mixers, and oscillators. Another name synonymous with software modeling, Steve Maas, has revised his classic text, Nonlinear Microwave and RF Circuits (Artech House).

Certainly, a well-written book is often a welcome companion for the quiet hours of a summer vacation. It's also a way letting that darned employer know that all that time off wasn't totally unproductive.