The University of Texas at Austin, Rohde & Schwarz and FormFactor have partnered to characterize a new technology for RF switches that improves battery life performance and supports higher bandwidths and switching speeds.
Deji Akinwande, from the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT Austin, leads the team that carried out the research: “We have developed an RF switch which has the potential to significantly advance 5G and beyond. By using the test and measurement solutions from Rohde & Schwarz and FormFactor our team was able to further characterize this new technology at the D-band, which is a frequency band of global interest for future 6G applications. The equipment was configured in an easy-to-use setup that provided reliable measurement results.”
Christina Gessner, Vice President for Spectrum & Network Analyzers, EMC & Antenna Test at Rohde & Schwarz says: “Our collaboration with FormFactor and Prof. Akinwande’s team is yet another example for how scalable test solutions from Rohde & Schwarz can meet the testing needs of fundamental research to turn today’s ideas into tomorrow’s reality. We are excited to support The University of Texas at Austin in their research for new RF switch technology that will enable energy-efficient use of 5G mmWave and future 6G sub-THz frequency ranges.”
In 2020, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) published ground-breaking research results on a new RF switch technology based on hexagonal boron nitrite (hBN).
The technology is energy efficient and allows higher bandwidths and speeds, making it ideal for 5G. In a recent follow-up project, Rohde & Schwarz, a market-leading supplier of test and measurement solutions for RF components and the wireless industry, and FormFactor, a leading semiconductor test and measurement supplier, have supported the academic institution in further research.
Now, the RF switch technology was characterized at sub-THz frequency ranges, in particular at the D-band (110 to 170 GHz), used for applications beyond 5G and future 6G.
The test setup consisted of a 4-port R&S ZNA43 vector network analyzer from Rohde & Schwarz connected to R&S ZC170 frequency extenders that allow to carry out S-parameter and intermodulation distortion (IMD) measurements at frequencies between 110 and 170 GHz.
The converters were used within FormFactor’s Cascade Summit 12000 probe station, mounted to the mm-wave/THz positioning system. FormFactor’s WinCal XE software tool allowed an easy calibration of the entire test setup, resulting in reliable and repeatable measurements.