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Comparison of transmission and reflection allpass phasers for analogue signal processing

Q. Zhang and C. Caloz
A comparison of transmission and reflection all-pass phasers is conducted in terms of resolution for analogue signal processing. First, a formula for resolution is derived based on the fundamental operation of real-time Fourier transformation. Next, the condition for equal resolution of the two types of phasers is established as a general relation between their coupling coefficients. It is subsequently shown that reflection phasers impose less constraint on the coupling coefficient than transmission phasers.

structure often referred to as a ‘C-section’. Its group delay is [16, 17]

tt (v) =

pa v0 a2 + 1 − a2 cos2 pv/2v0


where ω0 is the frequency where the electrical length is π/2, and a is related √ to the normalised coupling coefficient kt by a = (1 − kt )/(1 + kt ). This function is plotted in Fig. 2a. Its maxima occurs at ω0, 3ω0, … and are τtmax = π/aω0, while its minima occurs at 0, 2ω0, 4ω0, … and are τtmin = aπ/ω0. Considering that the maximal usable group delay swing extends over half the period of τt (ω), the phaser resolution is found as

@t = (ttmax − ttmin )v0 = p(1/a − a) =
Introduction: Microwave analogue signal processing consists in manipulating signals in their pristine analogue and real-time form for highspeed applications at microwaves – potentially up to the terahertz range – and may be considered as a mid-range counterpart of optical signal processing and RF surface acoustics wave processing [1, 2]. A number of microwave analogue signal processing applications have been recently reported [3–13]. The core of an analogue signal processing system is a phaser, which is a component exhibiting a designable frequency-dependent group delay response [13]. Phasers are usually designed as all-pass networks, which may be either of reflection type [3, 4, 14, 15] or of transmission type [16–18]. This Letter compares the two types of phasers in terms of resolution. Phaser resolution: Real-time Fourier transforming is a fundamental operation in analogue signal processing [3, 8], which may be considered as a reference to define the figure of merit of a phaser [3, 13]. To operate as a real-time Fourier transformer, a phaser must have a group delay that is a linear function of frequency (quadratic phase) with a slope satisfying the condition [3]
2 Dt 0 ≪1 ¨0 2p f

2pkt 1 − kt2


t tmax





0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6

equ al r eso lutio n
kr =



kr 0.5
0.4 0.3

1 − kt 1 + kt 2πk t 1 − k t2

1 4



(4) t





2w0 a


w 4w0

0.1 0

0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0

kt b

Fig. 2 Typical group delay response of transmission and reflection phasers with kt and kr satisfying condition in (8), and comparison of transmission and reflection phasers for equal resolution in terms of their coupling coefficients
a Typical group delay response b Comparison of the transmission and reflection phasers


¨ 0 is the slope where Δt0 is the duration of the signal to be analysed and f of the phaser’s group delay response, which is the ratio of the group ¨ 0 = Dt/Dv. According to delay swing, Δτ, and bandwidth, Δω, i.e. f Fourier theory, the duration of a signal is inversely proportional to its bandwidth [19], i.e. Δt0 = C/Δω, where C is a constant depending both on the shape of the signal and on the definition of its bandwidth. ¨ 0 and Δt0 into (1) yields Substituting the above expressions for f DtDv≫C 2 /2p. This relation, sometimes called the uncertainty condition [20] in analogy with quantum mechanics, reveals that the product ΔτΔω of a phaser should be as large as possible (at least larger than C 2/2π) for accurate Fourier transforming. One may subsequently define this product as the figure of merit for a phaser

A reflection phaser, shown in Fig. 1b, is composed of an impedance inverter connected to a shorted transmission line [14]. The inverter may be realised by coupling apertures, such as, for instance, a waveguide iris [21]. The normalised impedance at the input of the network is zin (v) = −jkr2 cot pv/2v0 . From this relation, S11(ω) is calculated as S11 (v) = zin (v) − 1 1 + jkr2 cot pv/2v0 = zin (v) + 1 1 − jkr2 cot pv/2v0 (5)

and the group delay is obtained as the frequency derivative of the phase of this function, and reads

tr (v) =

pkr2 v0 1 − 1 − kr4 cos2 pv/2v0


@ = DtDv


called the ‘phaser resolution’, because this quantity is proportional to the resolution of the frequency in the time domain. All-pass phaser analysis: All-pass phasers can be either transmissiontype or reflection-type networks. Fig. 1 shows the simplest distributed models of transmission and reflection phasers. These models will next be used to compute the resolutions of the two phaser types. Although several phasers are usually cascaded to provide sufficient resolution [16, 17], the forthcoming considerations for first-order phasers will qualitatively apply to cascaded phasers.
q= π at w0 2 π at w0 2

This function is plotted in Fig. 2a. Its maxima occurs at 0, 2ω0, 4ω0, … and are ttmax = p/kr2 v0 , while its minima occurs at ω0, 3ω0, … and are ttmin = kr2 p/v0 . The phaser resolution is then found as

@r = (trmax − trmin )v0 = p 1/kr2 − kr2


Comparison and discussion: The two types of phasers may be compared in terms of their coupling and inversion (i.e. also coupling) coefficients for equal resolution. By equating (4) and (7), one obtains kr = 1 − kt 1 + kt


coupled transmission lines
kt (coupling factor)

impedance inverter


transmission line kr (inversion factor) b


Fig. 1 Simplest distributed models of first-order all-pass phasers
a Transmission phaser (C-section) b Reflection phaser

A first-order transmission all-pass phaser, shown in Fig. 1a, is composed of two coupled transmission lines interconnected at one end, a

This relation is plotted in Fig. 2b along with (4). The first observation to make, regarding Fig. 2b, is that, for high phaser resolution, kt should be large (close to 0), whereas kr should be small (close to 0). This can be explained in terms of wave trapping with the help of Fig. 3. In the transmission phaser, as shown in Fig. 3a, a wave loop is formed at the end of the coupled lines via the end connection. Large delay follows from large wave trapping into the loop, and hence to a large amount of backward coupling [18], i.e. a large kt. On the other hand, in the reflection small amount of coupling, and hence a phaser, as shown in Fig. 3b, it is a small kr, since a large kr reduces the wave reflection from the inverter [21] into the loop.

ELECTRONICS LETTERS 4th July 2013 Vol. 49 No. 14

W.. Caloz (Electrical Engineering. École Polytechnique de Montréal.0606 One or more of the Figures in this Letter are available in colour online. pp. (7). IEEE 1989. 1962) 20 Cohen.. Wirel... whose bandwidth is less than 10%.. 61. 1963.M.. Microw.. D. D. B. which induces strong reflection. and Caloz. 2013. Q. S. Zhang. Sounas. Magn. S..V. A. and Caloz. S. © The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2013 21 February 2013 doi: 10. C. 58. USA. C. Microw. Compon. which is easy to realise practically. pp. B.. and coupling structures’ (Artech House Norwood. C. 601–603 12 Zhang. Snyder.L. 2008. 209. which may affect its behaviour because of bandwidth limitation. C. 10.. Theory Tech. A. 51. 15–20 ELECTRONICS LETTERS 4th July 2013 Vol. Erro. L.. December 2012.. Microw. S.. B. since typical circulators exhibit at least that much bandwidth and even possibly much more [22].: ‘Distortion-less real-time spectrum sniffing based on a stepped group-delay phaser’.. 2012.. and Apsel. E. 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