15 November 2017
VTT combines micromechanical waveguides and MMICs to create terahertz devices
Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a new manufacturing technology for the integration of very high-frequency terahertz systems, enabling the cost-effective development of telecoms and imaging solutions and space instruments that are even smaller and have higher frequencies.
The use of systems operating at frequencies exceeding 100GHz is limited by the expensive manufacturing methods. Also, the existing waveguide-based systems are too large for widespread use. “The new solution enables the cost-effective manufacturing of systems exceeding 100GHz,” says VTT team leader Pekka Pursula.
The system is based on micromechanical waveguides manufactured on a silicon wafer and active millimetre-wave monolithic integrated circuits (MMICs). The waveguides allow the low-loss transfer of signals to the MMICs and also act as the enclosure solution for the MMIC.
Picture: On the left, an amplifier using traditional waveguide technology. On the right, a component based on VTT's micromechanical waveguides.
The technology can be used in telecoms applications, where radio links comprising frequency bands of over 100GHz lay down the groundwork for wireless data transfer that is faster than today. This can also benefit imaging solutions operating at terahertz frequencies such as security cameras that reveal, for example, bladed objects hidden under clothing. The technology is also suitable for the manufacturing of increasingly smaller remote mapping devices used in satellites in space.
“Our goal is to reduce the production costs to one tenth of what can be achieved with the current standard manufacturing methods, while making the components significantly smaller,” Pursula says, noting that the development work is still ongoing.
In the future, the intention is to offer the research and manufacturing technology to the industrial sector as a service.
VTT’s technology received an award at the 47th European Microwave Conference (EuMC 2017) held in October as part of the European Microwave Week in Nuremberg, Germany. The prize-winning developers of the technology comprised team leader Pekka Pursula, research scientist Antti Lamminen, senior scientist Mikko Kantonen, senior scientist Jaakko Saarilahti, and principal scientist Vladimir Ermolov.