The 46th European Microwave Conference (EuMC), which concluded in London Oct.6 after a three day run, is the largest annual event in Europe dedicated to microwave components, systems and technologies. It attracts 4500 attendees and more than 300 exhibiting companies, spread over about 7800 m2, covering a broad range of high-frequency topics, from materials to integrated circuits, systems and applications. On exhibit at the Excel London fairground were the latest developments in filters and passive components, modelling and design of RF MEMS and microsystems, high data rate microwave photonics, ultra-low-noise microwave and millimeter-wave sources, 5G solutions and new packaging technologies.

Several members of the TTI manufacturer’s roster had interesting products on display:

    Knowles Capacitors presented a selection of new products across its brands – DLI, Novacap and Syfer. DLI branded 175 °C MLC devices in UL and AH High Q Porcelain dielectrics were shown and DLI also showcased their EAR99 Filters, Power Dividers and Couplers together with the introduction of 5G specific surface mount device options.

    Single layer ceramic Milli-Caps and Opti-Caps were another highlight. Milli-Cap broadband blocking capacitors, said to behave like an Ideal Capacitor, are constructed as a single piece unit with insensitive orientation. They match typical 50Ω line widths with very low series inductance and very high series resonance. These low loss, High Q parts are available in 0201, 0402 and 0602 footprints. Capacitance range covers 30pF-220nF over the ceramic dielectrics X5R: -55-85°C (TCC±15%) and X7R: -55-125°C (TCC±15%).

    Broadband capacitors are used in the “signal integrity” market: optoelectronics/high-speed data; ROSA/TOSA (Receive/Transmit optical subassemblies); SONET(Synchronous Optical Networks); broadband test equipment, as well as in broadband microwave and millimeter wave amplifiers and oscillators.

    Opti-Cap Ultra Broadband DC blocking capacitors were said to exhibit low loss frequency stability over temperature with very low series inductance. They provide resonance free DC blocking to >40GHz and are available in 0201, 0402 and 0602 footprints for SMT by solder or epoxy bonding.

    Ultra Broadband capacitors target optical communication systems (ROSA/TOSA, SONET) as well as high speed data systems or products. They are optimized for DC blocking, feedback, coupling and bypass applications.

    MACOM Technology Solutions debuted 27 new high-performance MMIC products, claiming they have the industry’s most extensive portfolio of DC to 100 GHz MMICs for test and measurement, SATCOM, aerospace and defense, wired broadband and industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) applications. Its new generation of wideband MMICs span product categories from amplifiers, frequency converters and control products to frequency sources and detectors, encompassing the entire block diagram from signal generation, amplification and conditioning to conversion and monitoring.

    The newly released high-performance MMIC families include:

  • Two wideband amplifiers. Fully matched and current adjustable amplifier solutions for Multi-Market applications.
  • A family of Low Noise Amplifiers, providing what is claimed to be industry-leading performance and versatility enabling accelerated time-to-market for customers.
  • A family of amplifiers designed specifically for DOCSIS 3.1 CATV infrastructure applications requiring high gain, superior linearity and low noise figure.
  • What is said to be the industry’s Highest Power MMIC Amplifiers – covering DC-22 GHz for Test and Measurement, Electronic Warfare and Radar Applications.
  • A family of high linearity power amplifiers for SATCOM. Applications feature the highly integrated L-Band device supporting longer battery life in SATCOM use.
  • An Octave-band family of Voltage Controlled Oscillators said to be best in class and suited for Test and Measurement, Aerospace and Defense and Communications Systems. The parts have octave band tuning ranges while maintaining low phase noise across the band as well as low current consumption. The MAOC-409000 operates in the 6 to 12 GHz frequency range, the MAOC-410100 in the 7 to 14 GHz frequency range and the MAOC-415000 in the 10 to 20 GHz frequency range. The family offers low phase noise, requires a single positive voltage bias of +5 V, has excellent tuning control, according to the company, and has stable output power with +/- 2 dB of variation over temperature.

  • MACOM and X-Microwave, also announced the availability of MACOM-based RF components for use with X-Microwave’s online simulation and prototyping platform. The X-Microwave platform has been developed to simplify the design and prototyping of RF and Microwave systems. It enables designers to simulate a system block diagram and then procure the required components to build the physical system. The components, which they call “X-MWblocks”, are “Drop-In” and “Drop-On” modules that are easy to test, integrate, align, and configure to 50 GHz.

    More than 90 RF connector interface types are available from Molex. Its product and application portfolio includes Temp-Flex specialty wire and cable products and the SDP Telecom product portfolio, which ranges from complex surface-mount passive microwave structures to sophisticated sub-assemblies and integrated subsystems. Applications can range from I/O to radar, automotive, specialty cable, and cellular communications. The company’s Ultra Low Loss RF cable assemblies using Temp-Flex offer a shielding effectiveness of 100 dB or better; a wide operating temperature range and are a flexible alternative to semi-rigid coaxial assemblies; the Ultra Low Loss cables use a unique air core design with up to 87% velocity of propagation (VoP). The diameter over the shield is comparable to standard semi-rigid sizes, making these cables a flexible alternative.

EuMC is Europe’s leading forum for presenting microwave and related technologies. 630 papers were submitted, which led to a wide program that included 49 EuMC technical sessions, 15 workshops, five short courses and three special sessions.

On the opening day of the event a full day workshop was presented on Additive Manufacturing (otherwise known as 3D printing) for RF Passive Hardware. The microwave industry Is trying to identify those AM approaches (materials, designs, processing, etc.) best suited for the manufacturing of RF hardware, with the goal not so much to replace well known and entrenched manufacturing approaches such as milling, but to exploit the additional freedom for advanced designs that 3D printing may represent. The first part of the workshop introduced the AM process and reviewed its features. The suitability of AM for the space sector was then addressed, including the impact of AM in satellite systems, followed by exploration of some manufacturing approaches and real examples.

Up until recently, the application of this manufacturing technique for microwave components was hindered by the properties of the manufactured part (surface roughness, tolerances, voids) that resulted in degraded performance. The European Space Agency (ESA) through its ARTES Advanced Technology program and together with a team from TESAT-Spacecom, one of Germany’s largest space technology companies, and Fraunhofer ILT, was able to overcome this issue, paving the way to using this technique to produce, for the first time, single-piece microwave components made from aluminum, including filters, couplers, and waveguide runs. The research team found that almost arbitrary geometries could be produced that are not possible or are very difficult and expensive to obtain with traditional milling techniques.

“The space industry is geared toward small series production of complex parts. This is precisely the strength of additive manufacturing,” said ESA's Christoph Ernst. “Achieving performance acceptable for RF space hardware in the frame of the ARTES program is a breakthrough. It enables not only a new cycle of optimization in terms of mass and performance but also quicker turn-around of early prototypes and reduction of delivery times can be expected.”

Murray Slovick

Murray Slovick

Murray Slovick is Editorial Director of Intelligent TechContent, an editorial services company that produces technical articles, white papers and social media posts for clients in the semiconductor/electronic design industry. Trained as an engineer, he has more than 20 years of experience as chief editor of award-winning publications covering various aspects of consumer electronics and semiconductor technology. He previously was Editorial Director at Hearst Business Media where he was responsible for the online and print content of Electronic Products, among other properties in the U.S. and China. He has also served as Executive Editor at CMP’s eeProductCenter and spent a decade as editor-in-chief of the IEEE flagship publication Spectrum.

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