An Integrated Millimeter-wave Photonic Phased Array Receiver System

Project: Research

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The widespread deployment of 4G networks in the past decade has fundamentally shifted the landscape of global internet, as witnessed by the dominance of smartphones and Apps today. The adoption of 5G in the coming decade is expected to further reshape the way we live and interact with the world through Internet of Things. Yet the pursuit for faster wireless connectivity never stops. Looking beyond 2030, it is expected that future 6G wireless networks will further move towards the upper millimeter-wave (mmW) bands,i.e.100 – 300 GHz, allowing for not only almost unlimited data bandwidths, but also the capability to perform highprecision sensing tasks,e.g.traffic monitoring, motion recognition and material detection, from any connected devices. It is, however, not a straightforward task to simply scale up the operating frequencies of current microwave system following the same working principles and design rules. Typical electronic components (e.g.mixers and amplifiers) become much more costly and less efficient than their microwave counterparts due to gain-bandwidth trade-off. Moreover, signal transmission of even meter lengths is challenging at such frequencies due to the large attenuation in cables and waveguides. In short,future mmW systems require fundamental design changesin both the system and component levels. Here we propose to develop an integrated mmW-photonic receiver chip, which could overcome these challenges by performing signal reception, mixing and potentially filtering functions all in thelow-loss optical domain.The proposed chip consists of phased-array antennas for signal receiving, mmW resonators for signal enhancement, mmW-optic modulators for signal up-conversion to optical bands, as well as photonic couplers for signal down-conversion to baseband via heterodyne detection, all integrated on a single lithium niobate on quartz mmW-photonic chip. The system is also highly compatible with the backhaul optical fiber networks for further signal transmissions. The proposed 300-GHz mmW-photonic receiver will be achieved by leveraging the complementary expertise of the project team: PI has previously demonstrated a number of high-performance integrated photonic devices based on the thin-film lithium niobate platform, whereas Co-I is an expert in the design, fabrication and characterization of mmW and terahertz antennas. Prior collaborative research between PI and Co-I under the support of RGC has already realized highly efficient mmW-optic modulators that could operate at up to 300 GHz bandwidths, which forms important basis for the proposed research. The successful accomplishment of this project will deliver a highly integrated, low cost and efficient mmW receiver system, with proof-of-concept demo of an ultrahigh-speed 300-GHz mmW data link for future 6G wireless networks. The chip-based mmW receiver solution could also leverage the excellent properties of mmW to enable a wide range of applications in medical imaging, machine vision and remote sensing. 


Project number9043318
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …