IISc researchers have developed an electronic component with significant strategic applications, which was previously not made in India. ‘Wideband radio frequency (RF) amplifiers', are mostly imported from other countries. According to the researchers, the new design outperforms those that are imported.
Amplifiers strengthen electronic signals. They increase the volume in a sound system, and strengthen the received radio signal in a mobile phone. Wideband RF amplifiers work over a large frequency range, and are widely used in industrial and defence applications. However, since they are not manufactured in India, they need to be imported.
Researchers from the IISc have taken this challenge head on. Their amplifier design consumes 90% less power, and occupies 50% less space than those that are imported. While this design is manufactured using a semiconductor “foundry”, since these are designed in India, they can save a lot of money by reducing imports. Once semiconductor manufacturing “fabs” are established in India, this design can very easily be moved to indigenous production using those facilities.
The amplifier leverages the industry-standard Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology. CMOS is used to build complicated integrated circuits with hundreds of thousands of components. For example, microprocessor in your computer, and the image sensor in your camera are manufactured using CMOS. However, as Dr. Gaurab Banerjee says, “[it] has some limitations in strategically important applications”. But the IISc team overcame them by making “some key modifications to a well established amplifier topology to enable this design on a CMOS process”. Bharat Electronics Limited, the technology development partner, has informed IISc that the new design meets “the development objectives for the amplifier”.
The research has been carried out with support from Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a state-owned aerospace and defence company.
About the author: Dr Gaurab Banerjee is an Assistant Professor in Electrical Communication Engineering Department, Indin Institute of Science.
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