Micran Relies on NI AWR Software for the Design of a Complex Space-Qualified X-Band MMIC


Company Profile

Micran is a modern, innovative enterprise with a strong team of specialists combining experience in different areas of microwave electronics, including telecommunication equipment, microwave blocks and complex systems, test and measurement equipment, and gallium arsenide (GaAs) microwave monolithic integrated circuits (MMICs) for use in the company’s own equipment. The full cycle of research and development gives Micran an advantage over its competitors.

The Design Challenge

The design of multifunctional MMICs like frequency converters, vector modulators, and amplitude/phase control circuits for transmit/receive modules (T/R) is quite a difficult task. Micran was designing an X-band (8-11.5 GHz) amplitude/phase control MMIC (core chip) for T/R modules used in space communication systems. It was critical that the design software include reliable models for a MMIC technological process, enable users to implement different types of circuit analysis (linear, nonlinear, EM), and have an easy-to-use interface in order to successfully solve design problems and ensure a high design productivity rate.

The Solution

Micran chose NI AWR Design Environment™ with the OMMIC ED02AH pseudomorphic high-electron-mobility transistor (pHEMT) process design kit for this exacting design task because it provides all the technologies needed and offers a user-friendly interface that enabled Micran designers to focus on solving their design problems.

The linear and nonlinear (harmonic balance) simulators in Microwave Office circuit design software were used for the core chip MMIC design. Harmonic balance (HB) was used for the calculation of nonlinear circuit parameters, including output power P1dB in the RX/TX mode, current consumptions, output voltages of the control logic, and more. HB was also used for a bit-by-bit checking of the attenuator, phase shifter, and switches to confirm that all control lines were correctly connected to switch elements. This approach enabled the designers to successfully design this complex MMIC after a single manufacturing iteration. The goal of the second iteration was to decrease the RMS phase error for the phase shifter included in the core chip.

Why NI AWR Design Environment

Micran chose NI AWR Design Environment because of its sophisticated and fast linear and nonlinear simulators combined with its ease of use and availability of models. Especially useful was the Microwave Office automatic update of the topological circuit representation in the layout editor in accordance with any changes of the circuit in the schematic editor and vice versa. Also important was the fast simulation speed for multibit circuits (attenuator and a phase shifter) included in the core chip MMIC and the availability of built-in functions that enabled the designers to calculate the absolute and RMS errors of amplitude/phase states. Micran noted that their MMIC designers value the very friendly NI AWR software interface and technical support from NI AWR software experts.

Successful GaAs MMIC Design Examples Featuring NI AWR Software