Millimetre-wave and Terahertz On-chip Circuit Test Cluster for 6G Communications and Beyond (TIC6G)

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

Abstract

The internet transmits data with a rate of hundreds of Terabits per second (Tbit/s), consumes 9% of the worldwide produced electrical energy and is growing at a rate of 20 - 30 % per year. One single carrier produced by a laser diode, can provide the data transmission of 26 Tbit/s. By combining optical carriers with TeraHertz (THz) waves as well, data rates of several Tbit/s can be transmitted over a wireless link, which will enable hybrid optical/THz wireless links. The next/sixth generation (6G) communication network is expected to be commercialised from 2030. 6G will generate greater diffusion and provide technical platforms to solve social, economic and humanity issues with higher data rates, wider bandwidth and lower latency. The urgency and challenges require the development of revolutionary technologies to meet the projected performance levels. These developments are captured in the recent beyond-5G roadmaps from research forums such as WWRF, NetWorld2020, H2020 5G-PPP, 6G-Summit, USA NSF, industry organizations including 3GPP, IEEE, ETSI, ITU-R, ITU-T, and spectrum regulatory forums e.g., FCC, ECC, OFCOM, WRC'19 [https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9020351].
At the University of Glasgow (UofG), more than 10 research groups in James Watt School of Engineering are working on enabling technologies in the area of wireless communications, optical networking and a mix of fibre optics, millimetre wave and ultrafast THz wireless links. Such concepts require novel semiconductor devices and circuits that must be characterised at an early stage of development, i.e. at chip level, once they are manufactured at our James Watt Nanofabrication Centre (JWNC). To support this research, this project aims to establish an on-chip device and integrated circuit test cluster together with a carrier independent, ultra-high data transmission rate and processing system to measure key performance indicators in both the user and control planes. The proposed Test Cluster is the first of this kind in the world that allows complex signal and waveforms directly deployed to devices under test on chip. This will trigger new device concepts as well as enable development of transceiver architectures. This work will potentially create industry game changers.
The Cluster consists of three key modules: waveform generation, signal analysis, and device characterisation. The three modules can operate individually or collectively and are built around a semi-automated probe station and an optical bench to allow on-chip probing, quasi-optics coupling and over-the-air characterisation setups. The waveform generation module can generate CW and wideband high-speed complex waveforms (>40 GHz) to meet the requirements of future communications for frequencies up to 1.1 THz. The signal analysis module can perform spectrum analysis of signal sources as well as real-time signal analysis on ultra-wideband, high data rate, complex signals in time domain for frequencies up to 1.1 THz. The device characterisation module permits continuous/pulsed current-voltage, network analysis and active load-pull measurements up to 1.1 THz. We are targeting measurements in hybrid transmission systems of several hundred Gigabits per second (Gbit/s). To allow other external groups and industry to use this unique measurement system for their research and development, a key aspect of the new measurement system is the possibility for remote control of all parameters via the Internet, which will enable use of the measurement system without the need to move the measurement system around and allow remote access to real-time data.

Publications

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