imec demonstrates compact low-power 140-GHz CMOS radar with on-chip antennas

June 8, 2018

Leuven, Belgium. imec announced that at the International Microwave Symposium next week it will present the world’s first CMOS 140-GHz radar-on-chip system with integrated antennas in standard 28-nm technology. The achievement is an important step in the development of radar-based sensors for a myriad of smart intuitive applications, such as building security, remote health monitoring of car drivers, breathing and heart rate of patients, and gesture recognition for man-machine interaction.

Radars are promising as sensors for contactless, nonintrusive interaction in internet-of-things applications such as people detection and classification, vital signs monitoring, and gesture interfacing. A wide adoption will only be possible if radars achieve a higher resolution, become much smaller, more power-efficient to run, and cheaper to produce and to buy. This is what imec’s research on 140-GHz radar technology targets.

This low-power 140-GHz radar solution comprises an imec proprietary 2-antenna SISO (Single Input Single Output) radar transceiver chip and a frequency-modulated continuous-wave phase-locked loop (FMCW PLL), off-the shelf ADCs, and FPGA and a Matlab chain. The transceiver features on-chip antennas achieving a gain close to 3 dBi. The radar link budgets are supported thanks to the transmitter effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) that exceeds 9 dBm and a receiver noise figure below 6.4 dB. The total power consumption for transmitter and receiver remains below 500 mW, which can be further reduced by duty cycling. The FMCW PLL enables fast slopes up to 500 MHz/ms over a 10-GHz bandwidth around 140 GHz with a slope linearity error below 0.5% and has a power consumption below 50 mW. The FPGA contains real-time implementation of basic radar processing functions such as FFTs and filters, and is complemented by a Matlab chain for detections, CFAR (Constant False Alarm Rate), direction-of-arrival estimation, and other advanced radar processing.

“With our prototype radar, we have demonstrated all critical specs for radar technology in 28-nm standard CMOS technology,” said Wim Van Thillo, IoT program director at imec. “We are well advanced in incorporating multiple antenna paths in our most recent generation solution, which will enable a fine angular resolution of 1.5 cm in a complete MIMO radar form factor of only a few square centimeters. We expect this prototype in the lab by the end of 2018, at which point our partners can start building their application demonstrators. First applications are expected to be person detection and classification for smart buildings, remote car driver vital signs monitoring (as cars evolve towards self-driving vehicles), and gesture recognition for intuitive man-machine interactions. Plenty more innovations will be enabled by this technology, once app developers start working with it.”

This imec 140-GHz radar open innovation R&D collaborative program has been endorsed by Panasonic, and imec invites potential interested parties to join.


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