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125 - 211 GHz low noise MMIC amplifier design for radio astronomy

White, Daniel and McGenn, William and George, Danielle and Fuller, Gary A. and Cleary, Kieran and Readhead, Anthony and Lai, Richard and Mei, Gerry (2019) 125 - 211 GHz low noise MMIC amplifier design for radio astronomy. Experimental Astronomy, 48 (2-3). pp. 137-143. ISSN 0922-6435. doi:10.1007/s10686-019-09641-z.

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To achieve the low noise and wide bandwidth required for millimeter wavelength astronomy applications, superconductor-insulator-superconductor (SIS) mixer based receiver systems have typically been used. This paper investigates the performance of high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) based low noise amplifiers (LNAs) as an alternative approach for systems operating in the 125 — 211 GHz frequency range. A four-stage, common-source, unconditionally stable monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) design is presented using the state-of-the-art 35 nm indium phosphide HEMT process from Northrop Grumman Corporation. The simulated MMIC achieves noise temperature (T_e) lower than 58 K across the operational bandwidth, with average T_e of 38.8 K (corresponding to less than 5 times the quantum limit (hf/k) at 170 GHz) and forward transmission of 20.5 ± 0.85 dB. Input and output reflection coefficients are better than -6 and -12 dB, respectively, across the desired bandwidth. To the authors knowledge, no LNA currently operates across the entirety of this frequency range. Successful fabrication and implementation of this LNA would challenge the dominance SIS mixers have on sub-THz receivers.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
White, Daniel0000-0003-0454-9028
Fuller, Gary A.0000-0001-8509-1818
Readhead, Anthony0000-0001-9152-961X
Alternate Title:125-211 GHz low noise MMIC amplifier design for radio astronomy
Additional Information:© 2019 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Received: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 30 July 2019 / Published online: 31 August 2019. This study is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership and the European Southern Observatory Technical Development Fund contract ESO/17/11279/ASP. The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Northrup Grumann Corporation and Caltech. We would also like thank Dr Gie Han Tan for his support of the work presented here.
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Southern Observatory (ESO)ESO/17/11279/ASP
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)1830652
Northrop Grumman CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Information Science and Technology (IST) InitiativeUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Low noise amplifier · Indium phosphide · ALMA · HEMT · MMIC
Issue or Number:2-3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200316-150528929
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Official Citation:White, D., McGenn, W., George, D. et al. 125 - 211 GHz low noise MMIC amplifier design for radio astronomy. Exp Astron 48, 137–143 (2019).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:101931
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:17 Mar 2020 17:04
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:07

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