University of Bristol

University of Bristol Students Win 2016 IMS High-Efficiency PA Student Design Competition Using NI AWR Software


Company Profile

University of Bristol is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 40 universities in the world in the QS World University rankings 2015. The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering is an active and successful center of excellence in teaching and research, with in-depth specialization in advanced communications technologies (power and spectrum efficient wireless access, image and video signal processing, photonics and quantum information) and electrical energy management. Much of the department’s research is interdisciplinary, working with colleagues in engineering and applied sciences.

The Design Challenge

University of Bristol engineering students Paolo Enrico de Falco, James Birchall, and Laurence Smith, under the supervision of Dr. Souheil Ben Smida, designed a single-ended RF power amplifier (PA), which won first place at the 2016 IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) (International Microwave Symposium (IMS) High-Efficiency PA Student Design Competition. 

The main challenge of the competition was to maximize the overall power-added efficiency (PAE) of the PA while amplifying a time-varying envelope signal, without compromising the linearity performance. The competition required that the winning team achieve the highest PAE as measured for a two-tone input signal while not allowing the carrier-to-intermodulation ratio to exceed 30 dBc (in other words, the measured third-order intermodulation distortion [IMD3] level could not be lower than –30 dBc). 

The Solution

The students chose NI AWR Design Environment to design their PA to the competition’s exacting standards because they were very familiar with the software and were confident that the complete suite of high-frequency tools would deliver the design performance they needed for the task.

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