High Resolution Passive Imaging Using III-V Monolithic Millimetre Integrated Circuits (MMICs) Operating at 200GHz

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering


This is a joint University of Glasgow, QinetiQ project in millimetre-wave imaging, primarily for safety and security applications - an excellent example of academia and industry working together to realise an operational, next generation, leading edge, functional prototype imaging system. The University of Glasgow is a world leading Centre in nanofabrication technology and millimetre-wave component design. Qinetiq is an internationally leading UK high technology company with particular specialism in producing advanced imaging systems.Millimetre-wave radar and imaging systems which operate in the 100-300 GHz frequency range, have numerous applications. Unlike infrared, millimetre-waves can penetrate fog, dust, smoke and light rain which makes them suitable for target acquisition, aircraft navigation, landing in zero visibility conditions and in unmanned autonomous aircraft.Millimetre-waves are able to passively detect concealed plastic and metal objects under clothing making them ideal for mass transportation security applications. In addition, the investigation of chemical and biological phenomena with non-ionising millimetre and terahertz waves may lead to compact detectors of dangerous substances and will enable new opportunities in medical diagnostic tools. Further, the ability of millimetre-waves to penetrate through few centimetres of sand render them capable of remote sensing and landmine clearing operation.The key to imaging and sensing systems operating at frequencies above 100 GHz is the realisation of ultra-high sensitivity Monolithic Millimetre-wave Integrated Circuits (MMIC's) in which low noise amplifiers (LNA's), detectors and antennas are combined on a single semiconductor chip. The function of the LNA is to amplify the received signal from the antenna, keeping the background noise at low level. The diode detector transforms the signals received into pixels with different shading intensities, and hence reconstructing a real image as the antenna scans across the target.Direct detection techniques have primarily been demonstrated only at frequencies below 100GHz, due to the performance limitations of current nano technologies and the largely unexplored design challenges at mm-wave frequencies beyond 100GHz. The advantages for implementing mm-wave frequencies beyond 100GHz are; higher resolution imaging, reduce cluttering, and smaller component size; hence a higher image definition, fewer false alarms, increasing safety factor, reduced cost, and less bulky systems can be realised. MMIC design for the applications mentioned above at millimetre-wave frequencies beyond 100 GHz, and specifically, next generation imaging systems operating at 200 GHz, presents major challenges in both technology and design. In technology, transistors with critical dimensions of 50nm (0.001x the diameter of a human hair), and three dimensional nano structures are required. In integrated circuit design beyond 100 GHz, all components produced on the chips are highly sensitive to their surroundings, including parasitic effects, so that every last FemtoFarad of capacitance an Ohm of resistance has to be considered. To insure a successful outcome, the overall project has been broken down into a number of tasks, each of which will be verified independently. The final prototype imaging system operating at 200GHz will be assembled and tested as a joint effort between the University of Glasgow and QinetiQ, both of whom are well established and internationally recognised research groups with the required technology and design expertise to successfully produce the demonstrator system. This project will allow the realisation of more compact, higher imaging resolution systems, paving the way for the next generation of single element and array imaging systems on a single chip.


10 25 50
Description Some of the technology I have developed is now been used many reserach groups in the School of Engineering at Glasgow University. Further, the key commercial aspects of my technology have now been taken by Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd (KNT), the commercial portal to our nanofabrication facility, on numerous contracts with both UK and overseas customers.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Electronics
Impact Types Economic

Description High Speed Sampling Downconverters for Radar and EW Applications
Amount £81,000 (GBP)
Organisation BAE Systems 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2008 
End 09/2010
Description UK source for mm-wave imager MMIC technology
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Organisation Qinetiq 
Department QinetiQ (Malvern)
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2007 
End 12/2009
Description W-Band Ultra Wideband Medium Power Amplifiers for Instrumentation Applications
Amount $50,000 (USD)
Organisation Agilent Technologies 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 09/2009 
End 09/2009
Description Transition on the Chip for coupling electromagnetic signal between the waveguide and the active device operating at 183 GHz 
Organisation Qinetiq
Department QinetiQ (Malvern)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design built and tested a new millimetre-wave component enhancing imaging system sensitivity capablity and reducing cost. Now our developed approach is utilised by millimetre-wave industry.
Collaborator Contribution Case studentship funding, £20K, partial Supervision (industry supervisor) and working with the UK defence sector and Metropolitan Police (London). System design knowladge transfer to the University.
Impact Imaging system design knowledge and new millimetre-wave component designed and made enhancing imaging system sensitivity.
Start Year 2007
Description Invitation to give a workshop presentation at European Microwave Week 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To provide an overview of the current research and future trends in technology, device design, associated scaling and reliability issues of narrow-bandgap GaAs or InP HEMTs targeting advanced microwave/(sub)mmwave transceivers aiming for highest frequency, gain, and lowest noise figure and power dissipation. Also new devices such as Sb-based HEMTs are of interest. Examples from circuit or system implementations of the narrow bandgap HEMTs are strongly encouraged.

The work shop organiser invited several well-known experts in the field. As my research in this field is internationally recognized and the organiser convinced a presentation from myself would considerably strengthen the programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
Description Invited speaker - Progress in Electromagnetics Research Symposium, Stockholm, Sweden. 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Advances in Millimetre-Wave and THz Circuit, Techniques and Applications discussions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
Description Invited to Agilent Advisory Board to advise on RF devices technology discussion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact RF devices technology discussion and future roadmap for collaborations with the University of Glasgow
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008