Microwave/RF business and engineering efforts may seem to enter “suspended animation” for one week each year—during the annual International Microwave Symposium (IMS) conference and exhibition. But in truth, that is the one week that everyone in this industry marks their calendars for one reason or another. The IEEE is usually wise in their selection of sites, and for 2013 the IMS is scheduled for June 2-7 in the Washington State Convention Center in one of this country’s most beautiful cities: Seattle, WA. The 2013 IMS marks the 61st year of the IEEE’s Microwave Theory & Techniques Society (MTT-S), the largest special-focus technical society driving the 2013 IMS.

The 2013 IMS is actually a collection of events in one place. In addition to the large exhibition hall and the regular IMS technical sessions, visitors can attend the Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) Symposium and the Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG) conference. Both draw healthy crowds of engineers with their respective interests, RF integrated-circuit (IC) design and RF/microwave test and measurement techniques. Also, 2013 is the first year for a mid-week event called “Wireless Industry Day” (see sidebar, “A Day Devoted To The Wireless Industry”), which provides presentations from companies largely in the Seattle area with a main focus on where growing business in wireless technology will be in the years to come.

Although these special “add-on” technical events might carry enough weight to attract most RF/microwave engineers, especially those working in wireless, RFIC, and test areas, there is no doubt that the regular IMS technical sessions are without equal when it comes to up-to-date information about specific areas of interest to high-frequency engineers and technicians. For example, in a session on low-phase-noise signal generation chaired by Ulrich Rohde, President of Synergy Microwave (Paterson, NJ), a presentation by that same company’s Ajay Poddar provides a closer look at the Mobius-coupled printed resonator oscillators featured on the front cover of this issue. The use of a Mobius coupling mechanism in these new oscillators has made it possible to shrink the size of the components for applications needing sources from 2 to 8 GHz. Experimental units have yielded phase noise of -112 dBc/Hz offset 10 kHz from the carrier.

In that same session, researchers from IBM in Haifa, Israel and East Fishkill, NY have applied that company’s 0.13-μm SiGe semiconductor technology to create a low-phase-noise, Ku-band subinteger frequency synthesizer for E-band transceivers. It produces signals from 15.4 to 16.7 GHz with phase noise of -84 dBc/Hz offset 100 kHz from the carrier, -111 dBc/Hz offset 1 MHz from the carrier, and -131 dBc/Hz offset 10 MHz from the carrier. Reference spurious levels are -44 dBc and subinteger spurious levels are -45 dBc, while power consumption is only 166 mW.

The technical sessions at the 2013 IMS cover everything from active devices through systems. It is the one week during the year where it is possible to earn an extensive education on almost any technology area. For instance, a session on gallium nitride (GaN) device technology for commercial space applications details processes, devices, and amplifiers for satellite-communications (satcom) use. Presenters from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), The University of Tokyo, and a number of companies from Japan and Turkey describe their design of an X-band GaN power amplifier for a small X-band satellite downlink system. The compact, 2-W GaN high-electron-mobility-transistor (HEMT) amplifier will support data rates to 300 Mb/s in the downlink. Presenters from Astrium Satellites from Portsmouth, England will show plans for somewhat larger GaN amplifiers for satellite navigation systems, with amplifiers capable of 80 W output power at S- and L-band frequencies.

The GaN presentations continue with a number of different research teams from Europe. Representatives from the Fraunhofer Institute (Freiburg, Germany), TNO Technical Sciences (Den Haag, The Netherlands), and DA Design (Oy, Finland) will describe submicron AlGaN/GaN monolithic-microwave-integrated-circuit (MMIC) technologies for space applications at X- and W-band frequencies. The technology is capable of MMIC amplifiers with as much as 400 mW output power and 16-dB gain at 90 GHz.

At slightly lower frequencies, a group from the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ and Linear Space Technology in Hamilton, NJ will share their work on a GaN solid-state power amplifier based on high-voltage GaN field-effect-transistor (FET) technology. The amplifier, is capable of 170 W peak output power at UHF with impressive power-added efficiency (PAE) of 90%. Designed for use at lower power levels in multicarrier wideband-code-division-multiple-access (WCDMA) cellular-communications systems, it can achieve WCDMA adjacent-channel power ratio of -25 dBc with PAE of 80%.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the presentations available during IMS 2013, with discussions spanning HF through THz frequencies and presentations on analog, digital, and mixed-signal circuits based on silicon, GaAs, GaN, silicon-germanium (SiGe) and essentially every other device technology currently in use at RF and microwave through THz frequencies.

Next year, the 2014 IMS is scheduled for June 1-6 in Tampa, FL. The General Chair of the technical program for 2014 is Larry Dunleavy, President and Chief Executive Officer of high-frequency modeling specialists Modelithics. Those interested in presented a paper in Tampa can contact Dunleavy by way of e-mail, with December 9, 2013 the deadline for submission of technical presentations.