LONDON Semiconductor foundry United Microelectronics Corp. has fabricated a “push-push” voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) that it claims has the highest operating frequency for any circuit implemented in silicon to date: 192 GHz.
The chip was developed by the Silicon Microwave Integrated Circuits and Systems Research Group (SIMICS) at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida.
High-frequency oscillators such as the 192-GHz VCO could potentially be used in close-to-terahertz applications for advanced remote sensing and imaging applications to accomplish chemical detection, detection through fabric, imaging through fog and clouds, and the detection of skin cancer.
The work was supported by Darpa and is published in a paper published in the Feb. 16 issue of IEE Electronics Letters.
"We are excited about the technological achievements that we have accomplished with the university to date and look forward to offering the fruits of these developments to the mainstream RF design community," Patrick Lin, chief SoC architect, system and architecture support at UMC (Hsinchu, Taiwan), said in a statement.
"We produced the VCO using a 0.13-micron CMOS process," said Professor Kenneth O, in the same statement. “We also have a 140-GHz fundamental VCO running in our lab, which has been fabricated using UMC's 90-nm logic process. It should be a straightforward matter to turn this into a push-push VCO to generate approximately 280-GHz signal. Furthermore, if a 65-nm process is used, we can probably reach 350 GHz to 400 GHz. Generating a terahertz signal in CMOS technology is not far off,” said O.
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