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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 ................................................................................................................................ 2
1. INTRODUCTION TO THE SUDY ............................................................................. 2
1.1 Background to the Research................................................................................................. 2
1.1.1 The fundamental of mixer .......................................................................................................... 2
1.2 Problem statement .................................................................................................................. 4
1.3 Research Questions ................................................................................................................. 4
1.4 Aims and Objectives ............................................................................................................... 5
1.5 Justification for the Research............................................................................................... 5
1.6 Organization of the rest of the chapters ............................................................................ 6
1.7 Summary ................................................................................................................................... 7
Chapter 2 ................................................................................................................................ 8
2.0 Literature review ............................................................................................................ 8
2.1 Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 8
2.1.1 The fundamental of Mixer .......................................................................................................... 9
2.1.2 Types of mixer .............................................................................................................................10
2.1.3 Parent Mixers................................................................................................................................12
2.1.4 FET mixer ......................................................................................................................................13
2.2 Gaps and Limitations of the previous researchers ........................................................16
2.2.1 Primary research and technical research ..............................................................................16
Chapter 3 ............................................................................................................................. 25
3.0 Methodology ................................................................................................................. 25
3.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................................25
3.2 Proposed Design ....................................................................................................................25
3.2.1 Proposed active mixer designs ................................................................................................26
3.2.2 Proposed passive mixer design ...........................................................................................29
3.3 Design Procedure and Analysis .........................................................................................30
3.4 Investigation on Material ....................................................................................................32
3.4.1 FET mixer over conventional diode mixers ...................................................................32
3.5 Simulation and Testing ........................................................................................................33
3.6 Ethical Consideration ...........................................................................................................33
3.7 Summary .................................................................................................................................33

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Chapter 1

1. INTRODUCTION TO THE SUDY


1.1 Background to the Research

In any radio communication system the signal processing requires to be shifted to a


certain baseband signal that will match a frequency that will be responsible for
electromagnetic propagation to the destination required. While at the destination the
reverse process should be done by shifting the received signal back to the baseband
signal in order to recover the information.

This process of shifting the frequency is referred as mixing. A mixer can be used on
both transmitting side and the receiving side. In the technological environment to
date, they are several designed mixers that can achieve the mixing of radio signals.
The RF is the transmission frequency, which is converted to an intermediate
frequency (IF) to improve selectivity and to implement an easier way for low noise
and high gain amplification in communication systems.

1.1.1 The fundamental of mixer

RF mixers can either be active or passive containing three ports. When two
originating frequencies are inserted in either of the two ports of a mixer the single
output port will yield both the sum and a difference frequency, this is the major
operation of a mixer due to its design as shown in Figure 1. In other engineering
operations, a will be used as a phase detector or even a demodulator.

Figure 1.1 , RF three port mixer

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The above diagram illustrates a basic outside structure of a two-port mixer, where two
signals enter through the ports, the signals are shown as RF and LO signal. A
nonlinear device is required to produce the new frequency or a set of new frequencies.

During mixing process two conversions occurs, which are up-conversion and down-
conversion. Depending on the design these two terms are used, if one needs to
produce an output signal which is lower than the input frequency it is termed as
down-conversion, and if one requires a higher output signal which is higher than the
inserted frequency signal, it is referred as up-conversion.

When designing a mixer they are several important parameters are to be considered,
these parameters are,
 Conversion gain or loss
 Linearity (intercept point)
 Ports isolation
 Noise figure
 Operating frequency range

Conversion gain or loss is a ratio of the output intermediate frequency (IF) can either
be power or voltage by RF input signal (also power or voltage). The conversion gain
or loss is dependent on the type of RF mixer either passive or active, it also depends
on the LO level and load of the input RF and the output impedance at the IF port.

Linearity can be referred as input interception point (IIP3). In any engineering


application, which involves designing of mixers, IIP3 is taken as important parameter
to consider, a higher LO power will be required. IIP3 refers to the condition at which
the RF input power, the out power levels of the unwanted intermodulation products
and the IF output are equal.

Port isolation refers to the leakage of oscillator power at the IF or RF ports. Mixer
isolation can be analyzed as LO to IF, LO to RF, or RF to IF isolation. The most
common isolation is LO to RF.

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Noise figure is a measurement of noise produced internally by the mixer itself when
the conversion happens at the IF output. In passive mixers, which have no gain and
only loss, the noise figure is the same as insertion loss.

Mixers usually operates from any frequency range, they usually start from low
frequencies up to higher frequencies tens of GHz. The operating frequency range is
one of the important characteristics of a mixer, as it will determine the selection of the
mixer.

1.2 Problem statement

The main purpose in which this project is carried out is to be able to obtain the
maximum conversion gain from the active mixer compared to passive mixer using
FET’s, conversion gain is the most important factor to be considered when designing
a filter. Achieving a maximum conversion gain is one of the problems facing active
mixer design, according to (Cotter Sayre, 2008) no circuit design synthesis or
simulation software or calculation that will produce a realizable mixer with 100%
accuracy. Hence upon completion and presentation the design does not aim at
producing 100% accuracy rather than producing the maximum conversion gain as
possible.

1.3 Research Questions

This research aims to fulfill the design of both active and passive FET mixers and to
be able to clearly evaluate the characteristics of both mixers, by following and relying
on objectives. The research also attempts to answer the following research questions.

 Will the designed mixers be able to achieve the maximum conversion gain?
 Are there any technical tolerances that might affect the designed prototypes?
 What necessary approach is to be taken to reduce port-port isolation on
mixers?
 Why are FET mixers given more priority over conversional diode mixers?

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1.4 Aims and Objectives

Active and passive mixers will be designed using FET’s and their performance in
terms of linearity issues, intermodulation distortion, conversion loss or gain and port-
to-port isolation will be investigated and compared.

The objectives of this project are as follows

 To design and implement both types of FET mixers, active FET mixer and
passive FET mixer.
 To evaluate the performance of the designed prototype using the tools
available at the university laboratory, and to evaluate the performance of the
conversion gain for the active mixer design compared to the passive mixer
design.
 To use ADS simulation software to achieve measurements and results of the
designed mixers.
 To analyze the performance of the prototype in terms of linearity, conversion
loss or gain and port-port isolation

1.5 Justification for the Research

This research is carried out so as to observe the characteristics of active and passive
mixers using FET’s. The research will fully follow the objectives of this project. The
research will critically analyze the mixer characteristics, which include, conversion
gain, linearity issues, and port-to-port isolation.

The main problem facing current mixers is to be able to achieve the maximum
conversion gain. In this project the designed active and passive mixers will be
evaluated mainly in terms of conversion gain and loss, different parameters will be
changed and the change in gain value will be noted for experimental analysis.

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1.6 Organization of the rest of the chapters

This section of the project will give an overview of what will be covered on all
chapters upon completion of this investigation report.

In chapter one, the report will base on the background of the research and introduction
to the study. In this chapter the objectives and aims of the project will clearly be
stated, the problem statement will also be identified, the research questions will also
be created, hence these research questions will be answered on chapter 2 of the report.

Why is this research carried out will be clearly stated on the justification section of
the report on chapter 1, and lastly the whole chapter1 will be summarized on the
summary section of chapter1.

Chapter 2 is mainly focused on the literature review providing a detailed technical


background on various types of mixers and a detailed report on FET mixers.
Furthermore in this chapter a review of past works done by different researchers will
be evaluated and analyzed, gaps in the topic will be found and stated, limitations and
problems faced by the researchers will also be evaluated. The review will look onto
similar systems designed by different researchers of the past and it will show how it
compares and contrasts.

Chapter 3 explains the proposed design discussed and evaluated, the material and
components to be used will clearly be stated and the functions of each on the circuit
will be discussed, a basic flow chart of how the project will be carried out is
illustrated in this chapter.
The whole scope of the project is done on chapter 4. In this chapter a complete flow
chart of the design is illustrated, formula used derived from basic fundamental is done
on this chapter, the constructional details of the mixer from theoretical mathematical
calculation is demonstrated here. And finally the testing of the actual design by
simulation is demonstrated and the results are explained. The hardware
implementation is also done on this chapter, the constructional details, the layout

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design and the final prototype together with testing is done and analyzed in this
chapter.

A detailed interpretation of the results obtained is done on chapter 5, in this chapter


it’s where the comparison of theoretical results and simulation results is done; also the
management of the project is discussed in this chapter. This chapter will also identify
any ethical issues related to the project. The problems faced and the troubleshooting
methods implemented to solve them will be discussed in this chapter and finally the
contribution done to the project will be critically analyzed with the help of diagrams
or any other relevant information present.

The final chapter will discuss the limitations of this project and provide necessary
guides to those who will want to use or improve the mixer designed. It is in this
chapter where the future work and recommendation is discussed and finally the
conclusion of the project in relation to the objectives is concluded in this chapter.

1.7 Summary

Short background information of mixers is discussed as seen from the introduction


section, in this chapter it has focused mainly on main characteristics of mixer, which
determines the performance of these non-linear devices. We have seen the main scope
of why this project is carried out as justified on the justification section where as the
aims and objectives are clearly stated out keeping in mind that the research questions
stated are to be answered through out the project.

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Chapter 2

2.0 Literature review

2.1 Introduction

In this chapter we will see more on different types of mixers and there applications,
we shall also see on different types of FET mixer particularly the dual Gate FET and
the resistive FET.

Furthermore a literature review on the past works done by different researchers will
be reviewed on this chapter, the review will base on the dual gate active FET mixer
and the passive resistive FET mixer.

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2.1.1 The fundamental of Mixer

There are two major theories that explain the working principle of a mixer, the down
conversion theory and the up conversion theory. As explained in chapter1 down
conversion refers to an output produced by the mixer, which is higher than the input
frequency. Up conversion refers to the output signal produced by the mixer, which is
higher than the input frequency. These two conversion terms forms two different
systems, Figure 2 shows a down conversion mixer system, while figure 3 shows up
conversion mixer system.

Figure 2.1, Down conversion mixer system (http://www.qsl.net/va3iul).


The analysis of the down conversion system is realized using the following equations
below,
LO signal:- VLO(t) = cos 𝜔𝐿𝑂 𝑡
RF signal:- 𝑉𝑅𝐹 (𝑡) = cos 𝜔𝑅𝐹 𝑡

The output of the ideal mixer is the product of LO and IF as shown below,
𝑉𝐼𝐹 (𝑡) = 𝐾𝑉𝑅𝐹 (𝑡)𝑉𝐿𝑂 (𝑡) = 𝐾 cos 𝜔𝑅𝐹 𝑡 cos 𝜔𝐿𝑂 𝑡
= 𝐾⁄2 [cos 2𝜋(𝑓𝑅𝐹 − 𝑓𝐿𝑂 )𝑡 + cos 2𝜋(𝑓𝑅𝐹 + 𝑓𝐿𝑂 )𝑡]

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Figure 2.12, Up conversion mixer system (http://www.qsl.net/va3iul).

2.1.2 Types of mixer

There are three main classes of mixers depending on the area of application in which
they are implemented. Mixers can be classified as single-device mixers, single-
balanced mixers and double balanced mixers, all these classes of mixers can be
implemented as active or passive.

2.1.2.1 Single-device mixers

They are also termed as unbalanced mixer, this type of mixers use only one non-linear
component. Single-device mixer produces different IF outputs example fs, fLO, fs-
fLO, fs+fLO and other more spurious outputs. They produce small isolation between
the mixers three ports leading to signal interactions and feed through to another port.
They always require an injection filter and they usually do not attenuate the LO signal
(Cotter Sayre, 2008).

2.1.2.2 Single-balanced mixers

The single balanced mixer is the type of mixer which will attenuate either the RF
input signal or the LO signal, it will not attenuate both signals. The attenuated mixing

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products will be sent to the output less than the unbalanced mixer. The single
balanced mixer produces isolation between LO and RF inputs solving the problem of
single device mixers. They are named as single-balanced simply because of the single
balanced balun, they have better intermodulation and spurious responses and better
port-port isolation compared to single device mixers. However they use more LO
power.

Figure 2.13, single balanced mixer

The above figure represents a single balanced mixer represented by two filters, two
matching diodes and a single balun. The balun is responsible for converting the LO
output to a balanced mixer input. The matching diodes helps in port-to-port isolation
(Cotter Sayre, 2008).

2.1.2.3 Double-balanced mixers.

Named because of the double balanced balun, the double-balanced mixer exhibits
superior IF-RF-LO inter-port isolation and they usually produce the sum and the
difference frequencies of LO signal and RF input signals as output, while doing this it
also attenuates both RF and LO signals, the mixer also attenuates 75% of the possible
mixer spurs at IF output port. It makes the selectivity and filtering process much
easier compared to other mixers. This type of mixer have a wider bandwidth
compared to a single balanced mixer however it has higher conversion loss meaning

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that the gain produced is low and the maximum frequency limit is low (Cotter Sayre,
2008).

Figure 2.14, Double balanced FET mixer (U.Rohde & D. Newkirk, 2004).

The figure above is the representation of a double balanced passive FET mixer in
quad rings, the mixer provides good linearity but consumes high LO power (U.Rohde
& D. Newkirk, 2004).

2.1.3 Parent Mixers

2.1.3.1 Passive mixer

These are non-linear mixers, which will have an insertion loss instead of insertion
gain. The insertion loss on a passive mixer is around 7dB. They have a higher RF
amplitude signal level than active mixers, most designed passive mixer exhibits lower
noise figure than active mixers hence they are highly used in a front end lower noise
receiver. The mixing of diodes internal resistance is the key contribution to
conversion losses in passive mixers, other cause that contributes to such a problem are

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impedance mismatching and the wasted 3dB bandwidth in the unwanted sum or
difference frequency.

2.1.3.2 Active Mixer

These are the types of devices which supply’s a conversion gain instead of loss. The
active mixer does not require high LO drive power and they are not sensitive to port
terminations, compared to passive mixers these mixers have a much better LO to IF
isolation and produce less output mixer spurs. However some of the active mixers
such as the gilbert mixers have a significant poor input interception point (IIP3), high
noise figure around 15dB and they require a higher DC supply voltage. Due to these
problems the active mixer is limited to certain roles in high end wireless applications
hence does not perform most of the roles in later stages of the receiver, where most of
the signal is controlled by automatic gain control (AGC) and the Noise figure (NF)
does not matter.

The port-to-port isolation is a good parameter in active mixer design, however it


requires couplers to help it generate quadrature LO phase signal, hence makes the
design to be more complicated and utilizes much area space (Shih-Kai Lin et al.
2011).

The active mixer operates by forcing the transistor to function within its non-linear
region by doing this it exploits the high level signal exhibited by the radios LO. The
mode of operation is similar to a class C amplifier operating a at conduction cycle of
180 degrees, the smaller RF amplitude signal operates within the device’s linear
region even though the mixer is built for non linearity.

2.1.4 FET mixer

The FET mixer is a three terminal component mixer. The FET mixer circuit structure
is simple due to the fact that the three terminal components provides an inherent
isolation at the RF and LO port or the gate and drain separately.

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Normally the FET mixer operates passively, it does not have a drain source bias
voltage and operates within the ohimic part of the current voltage characteristics. This
operation makes the FET mixer exhibit good large signal properties, which stands as
one of its advantageous. The FET mixer is absolutely stable and usually does not
produce 1/f flicker noise.

Due to the fact that the LO signal at the gate of a FET mixer is not rectified, this
makes the single FET mixer naturally noise balanced. However this is not viable for
extremely high frequencies due to the fact that the part of the LO signal may interfere
the drain-source of the conducting channel through the gate drain capacitance and this
will lead to rectification meaning non-linear current voltage interactions (Cotter
Sayre, 2008).

Due to the amplification of the LO signal, the single FET mixers are highly affected
by LO tor RF isolation.

2.1.4.1 Types of FET mixer

FET mixer is widely categorized in two sections, which reflects to its performance
and the mode of operation. FET mixer is grouped as active FET mixer and passive
FET mixer just as the parent RF mixers.

A passive FET mixer is the type of mixer in which under complete passive mode
design it acts as a switch. The gate source voltage of the FET mixer is the one that
controls the resistance of the channel, where by the drain source resistance acts as a
voltage variable resistor.

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Figure 2.15, Mixer FET switch

In different applications when the passive FET mixer is used as a switch the drain and
source at zero volts are responsible for biasing the FET. And then the gate is biased
between 0v and the pinch-off voltage, by doing this LO will behave as a switching
signal to the FET mixer tickling it on and off.

Active FET mixers are widely recognized as trans-conductance mixers. The local
oscillator varies the trans-conductance of the FET accordingly. The active FET mixers
have significant advantage over there counter part passive FET mixers simply because
they have conversion gain and produce lower noise levels, there is no conversion loss
produced on active FET mixers. However in terms of linearity effect, the passive FET
mixers produces good linearity than the active FET mixers (Cotter Sayre, 2008).

Example of an active FET mixer design is the dual gate single ended MOSFET mixer,
the mixer is highly used in undemanding consumer applications and operates for up to
400 MHZ, the out put of this mixer is duplexed to reduce intermodulation distortion
(IMD’s).

Below is a schematic diagram for a single ended dual gate MOSFET mixer.

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Figure 2.16, single ended dual-gate MOSFET mixer

Due to excellent performance produced by FET mixers, hence they are highly used on
RF mixer design. On further end of this project different types of FET mixers will be
evaluated and the more appealing design will be implemented for further testing and
analyzing the results, evaluation will base on the best design, which could produce the
highest conversion gain as possible (Cotter Sayre, 2008).

2.2 Gaps and Limitations of the previous researchers

In this section of the chapter a review of different research done by scholars and
researchers will be reviewed, the review will base on dual gate active FET mixers and
passive resistive FET mixers. An analysis of different results will be made, by
comparing the achieved results of each mixer. Mixer application will be stated and an
overall table of summary comparing the mixers will be created.

2.2.1 Primary research and technical research

Due to change of technologies especially in the use radio communication equipment’s


which uses high frequencies components, devices such as mixer, which will be able to
translate the frequencies to proper IF output to the receiver are highly demanded.

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On a research article done by I.Kallfass et al. (2008) he states that due to an increase
of high-speed semiconductors technologies a gradual increase cutoff frequency has
been seen. Therefore the mixers and multipliers which acts as a translating circuits
can be realized using the same semiconductor technologies, example of the
technologies used includes INP based pseudomorphic or GaAs base metamorphic
which are high electron mobility transistors.

Mixers play an important role in wide band communication systems, which use
heterodyne system architectures at millimeter wave carrier frequencies. On this part of
this paper a realization of a fundamental dual gate FET mixer with a conversion gain
beyond 200 GHz without any pre or post amplification is done (I.Kallfass et al.,
2008).

The schematic diagram of the designed fundamental dual gate FET mixer is shown
below.

Figure 2.17, schematic diagram of the fundamental dual gate FET mixer

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From the schematic diagram the RF signal is inserted and matched to a common
source transistor labeled as T1. The RF signal is switched to the output by matching
and inserting the LO signal to T2 transistor. The operating conditions of these
transistors are both categorized under class “A” bias conditions which leads to
amplification of LO signal for low power requirement and RF signals for conversion
gain. The output of the dual gate is matched to the needed intermediate frequency
component (IF). Matching will be very difficult and cause a very narrow band due to
the high output impedance of the dual gate stage; therefore in order to solve this issue
a source follower stage is kept to convert high output impedance to low impedance
with negligible signal attenuation, c1 together with the input capacitance of T3 are
short circuiting the high frequency components so as to decouple the high frequency
(IF) part from the low frequency (IF) part (I.Kallfass et al., 2008). T2 is conducting
when T3 operates under class A conditions and this makes R3 and R4 to be chosen.

The components values of the mixer are as follows, the bias voltage VDD =2v, VG1=
-0.1 v and VG2= 0.6, C1 is 100fF. The output results of the FET mixer is analyzed on
wafer measurements, and the results shows that the mixer provides a maximum
conversion gain of 2.8 dB at 210 GHz RF when operated by a 6dBm LO power.

One can refer to the results below, the maximum and better results are recorded at 210
GHz and 215 GHz respectively, and one can see that the conversion gain drops
rapidly to -3.8 dB at 220 GHz. The mixer also achieves an isolation of 16.8 dB and
18.3 dB at 210 and 215 GHz respectively.

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Figure2.18, LO-to-RF isolation vs conversion gain

This type of mixer is suitable in applications that require heterodyne frontends


operating at 210 GHz, it is more suitable in this area due to its high conversion gain
and high port-port LO-RF isolation (I.Kallfass et al., 2008).

On another research done by Kallfass, Massler & Leuther, (2007) on a dual gate FET
mixer of sub harmonic type achieved a conversion loss of 8.5 dB on down conversion.
The mixer is operated by a 10 dBm sub harmonic LO signal power, the mixer also
achieves a 3dB RF bandwidth.

The sub harmonic design of a dual gate FET mixer is applicable to applications that
involves imagining systems that operate at a frequency environment of 220 GHz,
therefore the mixer is more applicable to active radar frontend sensors (Kallfass,
Massler & Leuther, 2007).

Upon analyzing the conversion gain the sub harmonic dual gate FET mixer achieves a
conversion gain of -5.1dB where as its counter part the fundamental dual gate FET
mixer achieves a conversion gain of 2.8 dB improving the results by 7.9 dB
(I.Kallfass et al., 2008).

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The above review based on a fundamental dual gate FET mixer and a sub harmonic
dual gate FET mixer and each of the mixer produced different results on testing.
Further research was done to evaluate a down conversion sub harmonic pumped dual
gate FET mixer that operates beyond 200 GHz. On this research A.Tessman et al.
(2008) evaluated and analyzed the mixer using wafer measurements, the tested mixer
achieved a conversion maximum gain of -4.7 dB at 214 GHz, the full measured
bandwidth was from 165 to 220 GHz, from the results the gain maintained a threshold
of -10 dB and above (A.Tessman et al., 2008). The mixer was operated by a LO
power of 10dBm and consumed a total dc power of 36 mW.

The down conversion sub harmonic pumped dual gate FET mixer is used in
applications of active and passive high resolution imagining systems (A.Tessman et
al., 2008). By comparing the results of the three dual gate FET mixers we can see that
the fundamental dual gate FET mixers performs better than other by providing a good
conversion gain of a positive value, on comparing the two sub harmonics, the pumped
sub harmonic improves the conversion gain by 1.1 dB.

As detailed above all the reviewed dual gate mixers are all operating on microwave
frequencies of a bandwidth of 300 MHz to 300 GHz hence they are all monolithic
microwave integrated circuits (MMIC’s).

Due to the development of millimeter wave wireless communication systems, the sub
harmonics mixers (SHM) or the harmonics mixers of second order or higher becomes
a more better choice in wireless communication applications. However the in which
these mixers are facing is the continuous reduced supply voltage for each technology
generation, hence the sub harmonics mixer that uses a low voltage supply becomes a
better option for millimeter wave communication systems (Hu Zijie & Koen
Mouthaan, 2012).

On a research done by Hu Zijie & Koen Mouthaan (2012) the researcher presents a
sub harmonic cascode FET mixer that uses low voltage for operation. The proposed
cascode FET uses a biasing method that requires a low supply voltage and effectively

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facilitating the generation of the second harmonic of the LO signal for sub harmonic
mixing. Below is the schematic diagram of the proposed mixer design.

Figure 2.19, sub harmonic cascode FET mixer

By supplying a LO signal power of -4 dBm, the FET mixer achieves a conversion


gain of 12 dB and an IIP3 of -11 dB and a single side band noise figure of 7 dB, the
cascode FET mixer consumed an overall power of just 12 mW.

The mixer is realized to operate at 1V only; the mode of which the mixer operates is
class B operations hence there is no power dissipation on an absence of LO signal.
The biasing proposed on this design makes the mixer suitable for sub harmonic low
voltage applications (Hu Zijie & Koen Mouthaan, 2012).

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Table 2.1, Comparison table of the dual gate’s FET mixer and cascode FET
mixer

Technology Type of design Conversion gain in dB LO power/ DC power / mW


dBm

Dual Gate FET MMIC Active Fundamental 2.8 6 74

Dual Gate FET MMIC Sub-harmonic -5.1 10 36

Dual Gate FET MMIC Pumped Sub-harmonic -4.7 10 36

Cascode FET Sub-harmonic 12 -4 12

In comparison to the dual gate FET mixers, the cascode FET mixer produced a much
better results of conversion gain and also utilized small power requirements.

However for low frequency applications the fundamental mixers such as the
fundamental dual gate FET mixer produces more superior performances compared
with the sub harmonics (Hu Zijie & Koen Mouthaan, 2012).

The previous paragraph of this chapter discussed about the active FET mixer, the
comparison and analysis was made also the technology used is seen, we have also
seen the application of each mixer evaluated, the following review will base on
passive resistive FET mixer’s, we will see the circuitry schematics, analysis,
technology used, limitations and comparison.

Passive mixers are highly used in radio communication system that does not
necessarily take conversion gain as an important parameter, and also in applications
that require utilizing low DC power. Passive mixers have higher conversion loss,

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which leads to poor noise performance, however they produce a much better linearity
and they consume less power.

In an experiment done by Lin, Kuo & Wang (2011) on a 60 GHz sub-harmonic


resistive FET mixer using 0.13 micrometer CMOS technology come up with the
following experimental results, the mixer was tested on wafer and exhibited a flat
conversion loss of about -12 to -13 dB, the mixer produced a good isolation loss from
56 to 66 GHz ports for both up and down-conversion. The mixer utilized a very low
LO power of 0 and -1 dBm, even though the power exceeded 4 dBm the 2LO-RF
isolation stayed more that 27 dB. The mixer has an IF bandwidth of 3 dB where each
band is defined by IEEE (Lin, Kuo & Wang, 2011).

Figure shows the schematic diagram of the presented and analyzed mixer.

Figure 2.2, Schematic diagram of the sub-harmonic 60 GHz resistive FET mixer,
(Lin, Kuo & Wang, 2011).
The sub-harmonic resistive FET mixer presented in figure above can be operated for
both conversion systems, the up-conversion and down-conversion, unlike the active
FET mixer which can either be tested for a fixed mixer topology (Lin, Kuo & Wang,
2011).

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RF receivers and mixers play an important role in today’s modern communication
systems, however these devices are vulnerable to dynamic range and linearity, hence
they are weak in detecting signals from multiple input and output devices. By the use
of FETs or non-linear active diodes, passive resistive mixers are preferred over active
mixers for up-down conversion of RF linear mixing. However passive resistive
mixers have a habit of consuming a higher LO power to produce high mixer linearity.
For the first time a research conducted by J.S.Moon et al. (2013) demonstrates a zero
bias linear resistive FET mixer, which uses graphene FET with state-of-art-mixer
mixer linearity. The graphene gate pumped resistive FET mixer tested achieved
excellent mixer linearity at low LO power. The mixer is tested with no applied drain
bias, hence there is no DC power dissipation consumed. The local oscillator signal is
applied to the gate while the RF signals passes through the drain, in the channel
resistance the modulation of FET with LO occurs and this provides a required linear
RF mixer performance.

The graphene FET demonstrated uses a short-gate-length of 0.25 μm, it is


characterized with a cutoff frequency of 40 GHz and the maximum oscillation
frequency of 37 GHz. The experimented graphene resistive FET mixer achieved a
conversion loss of 14 dB at 2 GHz by gate pumping the FET mixing, the mixer is
reportedly to improve atleast > 10 dB compared to all other tested graphene mixers.
At 2.6 dBm local oscillator power, the mixer demonstrates the third order input
interception point (IIP3) of 27 dBm (J.S.Moon et al., 2013).

In conclusion “ the excellent linearity demonstrated by graphene FETs at low LO


power offers the potential for high-quality linear mixers” (J.S.Moon et al., 2013, p.
465).

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Chapter 3

3.0 Methodology
3.1 Introduction

In this chapter proposed designs of active and passive mixers using FET’s are
presented, the designs are presented in schematic diagrams and the flow of design is
shown using the flow charts. Further analysis of the designs, which includes
mathematical calculations, simulation results and prototype building, will be done in
chapter 4 of this project.

3.2 Proposed Design

There are three proposed designs, two of the designs are active mixer in which one of
them will be chosen in chapter 4 for analysis and testing and the third design is the
passive mixer.

The first proposed design is the active double balanced Gilbert cell mixer using
MOSFET’s transistor Technology. The double balance design is selected due to
numerous advantages, the double balance mixer provides rejection of the RF and LO
at the IF output since both RF and LO are balanced, the mixer topology is good for

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linearity and less susceptible to noise caused by supply voltage, it also provides good
conversion gain and the mixer is highly used in daily life RF applications.

The second proposed design is the basic active FET mixer using NE25139 transistor,
the transistor technology is subject to change depending on the nature of the
simulation results. This type of transistor is highly used to mixers for ultra high
frequency applications and can cost less compared to gilbert cell mixer design.

The third design will base on passive FET mixers, the passive mixer will be designed
to see how the mixer will respond in conversion gain characteristic and IMD levels
and will be compared with the active mixer chosen above. The passive mixer has a
disadvantage compared to active mixer since it produces loss in instead of gain hence
it has high gain requirements in the LNA and IF stage receiver. However the passive
mixer will provide good IMD levels. In passive mixers all transistors works as
switches.

The active mixer chosen will be designed and tested by evaluating three parameters
which are conversion gain, linearity and port-to-port isolations where as the passive
mixer designed will be evaluated in terms of gain and IMD levels.

3.2.1 Proposed active mixer designs

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Figure 3.1 Gilbert active cell mixer using FETs

The above diagram is the active double balanced down conversion gilbert cell mixer
proposed. From the diagram we can observe the gain transistors at the top, MOSFET
5 to MOSFET 6, for good and smooth switching the MOSFET 5 to 6 are smaller than
MOSFET 1 and 2. The beneath MOSFET 1 and 2 are used as LNA and those
inductors L3 and L4 are there to produce optimal noise matching, the inductors can be
replace by source resistance RS which performs the same function.

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Figure 3.2 active down conversion FET mixer

The second active mixer designed is presented above. The mixer above is
characterized by three filtering stages as shown from the circuit above. The first filter
stage is the Chebyshev band pass filter, which will select certain LO oscillator band of
frequencies, the second stage is the Chebyshev low pass filter stage which will ensure
that all frequencies above the RF frequency will be suppressed for proper
amplification, and the last stage is another low pass filter which will ensure the down
converted signal is in proper IF frequency and stable. The FET Transistors in this
design will provide gain for the mixers and the passive devices will ensure filtration
and stability. A third order filters and choking devices are used in this design to
provide more degree of freedom.

It should be noted that the values provided in these circuits might not be the exact bias
condition values or passive devices values which will be used on the designs, simply
because the designs are subject to change due to optimizations and tunings, to provide
the best results that will meet our project requirements, hence the values are there to
complete the proposed design but they are subject to change during testing.

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3.2.2 Proposed passive mixer design

Figure 3.3 passive ring resistive FET mixers

The above schematic circuit diagram is the proposed design for the passive FET
mixer. The mixer is characterized by the resistive FET transistors, which act as the
heart of the circuit. The FETs are in Ring topology varying the resistance of the
transistors hence producing conversion loss but improving the mixer linearity, the
FETs in the ring topology operates as switches turning on and off multiplying the RF
in square wave. The RF input and IF output contains a low pass filter which will
suppress the incoming and outgoing signal to ensure that the signal frequencies will
not be higher than the actual frequencies to be obtained. This is the down conversion
mixer and it will produce a lower frequency output at the IF which will serve as the
difference frequency.

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3.3 Design Procedure and Analysis

ACTIVE AND PASSIVE FET MIXER DESIGN

Set Design requirements and expectations

Mathematical Design (calculations)

Choice of components

Schematic Circuitry Design using simulation


software

Run simulation

Get results

Hardware implementation

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Above is the simple flow chart, which shows design stages of this project. From the
chart the first block represents the aim of the project, which is to design an active and
passive FET mixer. The block that follows shows the steps, which will be taken to
finish the project successfully.

Before starting the design, the design requirements and expectations are set, so the
mixers will be designed by following the design goals set which and hence at the end
we expect the design to meet the requirements set. The design requirements involves
setting the conversion gain that we need for the particular mixers, setting a certain
linearity for the good operation of the mixer and check to see if the mixer will respond
with good port-to-port isolation, these are requirements which we will set on later
stage of the project for active mixers. On the other hand we need to assure the passive
mixer design has to provide good IMD levels and less noise figure.

Therefore after setting the requirements of the mixers, we will design the mixers by
mathematical approach using relevant formulas to obtain the value of gain, linearity
and values of passive devices. For the second design of active mixer we will need to
design the Chebyshev filters mathematically and obtain the passive device values for
the filters prototypes, for the transistors we will choose them by the help of I-V
characteristics for non-linear saturation region and we will find the parameters of the
operating bias conditions of the chosen transistors through data sheet and
mathematical formulas. The mathematical approach of the design will be done in
chapter 4 of this project.

The next step will be the choice of components in relation to the mathematical values
obtained, hence the components choice should match the values from the
mathematical approach. The components should be equal or nearer to the values
obtained from the calculations, however sometimes it might be difficult finding the
exact components in the market hence a matching approach or other alternative
approach might be implemented.

After obtaining the components values, the next step is to implement the values on the
schematic circuitry and design the schematic on simulation software. After the design
is complete we shall run the simulation to obtain the results. It is in this step in which

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a method shall be implemented to enhance the design to achieve better results than
what we expected, the enhancement of the design might lead to change of some part
of the circuit design or change of some values of the devices used it will all depend on
the enhancement and optimization approach.

The last step is hardware implementation in which it will be done after achieving our
design requirements from the simulation results, depending on the transistor
technology used the designs will be fabricated on PCB for final testing.

3.4 Investigation on Material

Mixers are highly built using transistors or conventional diodes. Most of them are
integrated using BJT or MOSFET transistors and they are many others, which are
integrated using conventional diodes. A research on which technology to use on
designing these mixers was done and as a result MOSFET’s mixers appeared to have
numerous advantages over diode mixers. Below is an overview of why FETs are
chosen over diodes as obtained from a journal by (Kallfass, Massler & Leuther,
2007).

3.4.1 FET mixer over conventional diode mixers

In this project FET mixers are chosen due to the fact they have numerous advantages
over conventional diode mixers. On active circuits realization, FET mixers produce
low noise figure, the conversion loss is less and the power required by the local
oscillator is low. Since FET mixers can be operated at room temperature the mixers
can be designed in low size resulting in low cost production and easy deployment.
FET mixers can be integrated with other circuit components such as low noise
amplifiers to form multifunction single chip receivers. FET mixers are easy to design,
can be designed on basis of conventional linear transistors using fast circuit
simulation method such as harmonic balance analysis, (Kallfass, Massler & Leuther,
2007).

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3.5 Simulation and Testing

It is very important to know which software will be used on simulation, after a short
research of best softwares for analog and RF circuits i came across advance design
system and serinade both being advance software for RF circuits mainly used by
designers, researchers and companies. Therefore one of this software will be used to
design and simulate the mixers. Simulation design and results will be done in chapter
4 of this project together with the hardware implementations where as the overall
discussion will be in chapter 5.

Testing of the mixer designs will vary because both active and passive mixer has
different characteristics. Therefore active mixer designed will be tested for three
important parameters which are gain, linearity and port-to-port isolation which stands
as objectives of this project. The passive mixer will be tested for conversion loss and
IMD levels, we know that the passive mixer has a disadvantage over active mixers
because it produces loss instead of gain however the passive mixer provides best IMD
levels.

3.6 Ethical Consideration

This project does not have any ethical issues to consider, simply because it will not
involve any third party collection or gathering of data from individuals. The only
research conducted is done through literature review from different journals, books
and papers published by scholars and previous researchers. There will be no surveys
or questionnaires conducted upon completion of this project.

3.7 Summary

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