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Student Design Competition


Low Phase Noise X-Band Oscillator

MTT-S Technical Committee and Industrial Sponsors:

MTT-22 (Signal Generation and Frequency Conversion) MTT-14 (Microwave Low-Noise Techniques) MTT-17 (HF/VHF/UHF Technology)

Competition Coordinator(s):

1. Ulrich L. Rohde ( 2. Ajay K. Poddar ( 3. Tatsuo Itoh ( 4. Scott Wetenkamp ( 5. Carlos Saavedra ( 6. Bert Henderson ( 7. Amarpal Khanna ( 8. Jeremy Everard ( 9. Kenji Itoh ( 10. Takashi Ohira (

Student Competitors are required to design, construct, measure, and demonstrate a 10 GHz oscillator using printed transmission line (microstripline/stripline) resonators. The signal source (Oscillator) in communication and measuring system works as a reference frequency source on to which modulation is coded and later demodulated. The phase noise performance of oscillators is dependent on the Q-factor of the resonator, and is critical in setting the ultimate system performance limits of modern communications, radar and timing systems. Under pressure from consumers, data rates continue to rise even as the available bands become more and more crowded. As this demand for more data throughput per MHz grows the modulation schemes become more complicated and those schemes demand less phase jitter from the LO. Oscillator phase noise, which translates to phase jitter, becomes increasingly important. Standard integrated circuits are planar circuits, therefore it is important to eliminate discrete and bulky resonators (they are sensitive to vibrations due to 3-

Dimensional structures), and produce high Q planar resonators by exploring new techniques such as coupled resonator configuration for low noise signal sources. Planar resonators, such as ring, hairpin, microstrip-spiral, and coupled line resonators, can be easily implemented in practical MMIC fabrication process, which is cost-effective and amenable for integration in IC form but at the cost of large size and low Q factor in comparison to the other discussed resonators. This competition is designed to introduce students to the challenges of designing and testing a 10 GHz oscillator circuit, which is the heart of the frequency ranges for X-band RADAR applications. The important aspects of the oscillator circuits are: selection of the best transistor at the right bias, selection of the high Q-factor printed resonators, and the optimum feedback (circuit) to make it stable oscillation. The test equipment will be provided by Agilent and Rohde & Schwarz (FSUP 26) needed for the competition. Ulrich Rohde, Scott Wetenkamp, and Amarpal Khanna will be responsible for ensuring that all the test equipments and necessary work stations are available during the competition.

The brief guidelines of this competition are given below: The oscillator circuit shall allow for internal inspection of the circuit schematic and layout. Students must also submit the CAD simulation file with simulated data using any CAD tools or theoretical simulation software (ADS, Ansoft, Serenade, AWR, and others). Size of the planar PCB: < 1 inch square package DC power consumption: < 500 mW Supply Voltage (DC): < 15 Volt Supply Current (DC): < 100 mA Operating frequency: ( 10 GHz), 1% frequency accuracy Harmonics: < 10 dBc Output Power: > 0 dBm into a 50-ohm load impedance

Design Specifications:

The oscillator may use any technology using printed resonator. A frequency accuracy of 1% can be realized by cutting the printed stubs part of the planar resonator networks or choice of capacitors across the resonator circuit. Use of commercial discrete transistors, varactors, diodes, integrated semiconductors, and passive components is allowed. Used of printed circuit board with different thickness and dielectric

constant are allowed. Use of multilayer board is permitted. The oscillator shall be tested for the completion at room temperature (22o C +/- 5o) at IMS 2014. However, contestants are encouraged to bring the measured results from their home and show to coordinators/judges. The decision will be based on the performance checked at room temperature only. The oscillator circuit will utilize a 3.5 mm SMA or compatible connector. The prime DC power shall be totally derived from a single supply with a voltage of up to 15 Volts DC (either polarity) employing two wires. The maximum current shall be less than 100 mA. A metered power supply will be provided at IMS 2014 by the organizers. However, use of internal power supply from phase noise measurement equipments (Agilent, FSUP from R&S) is encouraged to minimize the noise from external DC power supply (if any). No internal batteries may be used. The performance of the oscillator circuits is based on the FOM parameters as measured with a phase noise analyzer. A separate voltage source may be used for the tuning voltage measurements. The decision will be based on a Figure of Merit (FOM), which is given as [2]

Where is the oscillation frequency, is the phase-noise at the offset frequency , and is the total consumed DC power in milli-watts. Students are encouraged to refer the formula [1] in their design process for evaluating Q factor of passive resonator part; the larger value of loaded Q-factor may lead to lower phase noise. The oscillator with the best calculated FOM will be the winner of the competition. In the situation where contestants obtain the same figure of merit (FOM), the one with the lowest spot phase noise at 10 kHz offset will be selected as winner.

Evaluations Criteria:

The eligibility criteria for the participating students: They should be active students from university (part-time or full-time), they should be IEEE members and the competition is open to How To Participate: undergraduate, graduate students, part-time employed students, etc. The students are required to submit the design summary with circuit schematic on or before 1 April, 2014 for participating in the competition. The maximum number of students in a team is 4, and 2-prototype circuits or modules are required, students may bring measured data for evaluation and verification of their measurement.

Submit an entry form ( to both Ajay Poddar at , Scott Wetenkamp at , and the Student Design Competition chair at ( by Monday 31 March 2014.

Based on feedback received from past IMS conference, the anticipated numbers of competing teams are likely to be between 10 to 15. The space requirements to run this competition is a closed hall or open place area (approximately 50x 50 sqft).


The winning team will receive a prize of $2000 (USD), and will be invited to submit a paper describing the design for journal of IEEE Microwave Magazine. Following companies may sponsor the competition: Ansys Synergy Microwave Corp. Agilent Rohde & Schwarz Anapico Noise XT Holzworth

Please contact Ajay Poddar (; and Scott Wetenkamp ( Cell: 201-560-3806 for more information on this competition. Monday 31 March 2014: Last day to submit entry forms

Important Dates:

Saturday 15 April 2014: Notification of the participants selection

[1] Takashi Ohira, Rigorous Q-factor formulation for one- and two-port passive linear networks from an oscillator noise spectrum viewpoint, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II: Express Briefs, vol. 52, issue 12, pp.846-850, Dec. 2005. [2] D. Hamand A. Hajimiri, Concepts and Methods in Optimization of Integrated LC VCOs, IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, Vol. 36, No. 6, pp. 896-909, June 2001.