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Millimeter wave Instrumentation and Characterization



OBJECTIVE: Broadband in-situ characterization of mm-wave components in vacuum 

DESCRIPTION: Characterizing millimeter-wave electronic components in vacuum, such as slow-wave structures, antennas, amplifiers, and passive networks, is a crucial and largely unmet need, especially at affordable prices that would enable innovation in more laboratories. The established commercial approaches at lower frequencies use vector network analyzers; at frequencies well above 100 GHz, however, such instruments [1] are rare and prohibitively costly, and largely incompatible with vacuum equipment. Transmission and reflection measurements from 50 to 500 GHz in vacuum conditions would enable testing of emerging millimeter and sub-millimeter-wave systems for space and vacuum electronic applications. Generation and detection of mm-wave test signals within the vacuum chamber would avoid lossy and expensive mm-wave hermetic links to bulky test equipment. While basic network analysis is a starting point, further refinements could include probe stations to hold devices under test and software to control and evaluate the data from the instrument. The goal is a vacuum-compatible packaged mm-wave generation, detection, and probing platform for economical network analysis at mm-wave frequencies, up to and exceeding 500 GHz. For scalability, key manufacturing processes must be modified for wafer-scale processing compatibility. Potential customers include Air Force research and university laboratories, start-up companies working in millimeter-wave systems and components, and established wireless companies, which need to characterize antennas, active devices and passive networks at frequencies above 50 GHz. For example, the growth rate in 2020 for mm-wave amplifiers will exceed 10% given the explosive growth of 5G wireless systems using millimeter-waves. 

PHASE I: Fabricate vacuum-compatible mm-wave network analysis probe head and demonstrate mm-wave characterization at atmosphere. Show that achieving network analysis measurements from 50 to 500+ GHz is feasible, and that probe cabling can transition into vacuum. 

PHASE II: Fabricate vacuum feed-throughs for probe cabling, and test mm-wave probe characterization under vacuum. Further optimize signal generation and detection for higher frequencies. 

PHASE III: Demonstrate key technology process optimizations for mass-production capability. Develop ancillary control and drive circuitry to move from lab prototype to commercial product. 


1. J. Hesler, Y. Duan, B. Foley, T. Crowe, “VDI - THz Vector Network Analyzer Development & Measurements”, Virginia Diodes Newsletter, March 2010.; 2. Y. Duan, J Hesler, “Modular VNA Extenders for Terahertz Frequencies.”, 20th International Symposium on Space Terahertz Technology, Charlottesville, 20-22 April 2009.; 3. T. Gaier, L. Samoska, C. Oleson, and G. Boll, "On-wafer testing of circuits through 220 GHz," in Ultrafast Electronics and Optoelectronics, J. Bowers and W. Knox, eds., Vol. 28 of OSA Trends in Optics and Photonics, Optical Society of America, 1999.; 4. L. Chen et al., "Terahertz Micromachined On-Wafer Probes: Repeatability and Reliability," in IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, vol. 60, no. 9, pp. 2894-2902, Sept. 2012. M. Hrobak, M. Sterns, M. Schramm, W. Stein and L. Schmidt, "Desi

KEYWORDS: Vector Network Analysis, Mm-Wave Characterization, Mm-wave Probes, Vacuum Electronics 

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