exit bar


Fall 1999



Communications, Electronics Combine in RFIC Design Course

Neal Patwari (left) and Neiyer Correal troubleshoot their final project in the new RFIC Design Course


After struggling to design and build a working radio on spec, on time, and in budget, Virginia Tech students now have the opportunity for further challenge - squeezing a radio onto a chip.

In a new graduate-level course on radio frequency integrated circuit design, students use modern, commercial RF/microwave CAD software to design and implement RF circuits at the IC level.

Such radios on chips have become common in wireless communications applications, according to Sanjay Raman, who developed and teaches the new course. "The rapid expansion of wireless communications applications - paging, RF identification, analog/digital cellular telephony and personal communications services (PCS), wireless LANs - has led to an explosion in the development of integrated circuit (IC) approaches in the RF/microwave area," he explained.

"Highly integrated RF components are quickly replacing hybrid circuits employing discrete semiconductor devices," he added. "This means there is an increasing need for skilled RF/microwave IC designers in industry."

The course covers transceiver architectures for current wireless standards, active/passive device technologies, low-noise amplifiers, mixers, frequency sources, and power amplifiers. For a final project, student teams design a specific component RFIC for a realistic wireless communications system applications and implement and validate the design in a CAD environment.

"This was a great course," said Neal Patwari (MS, '99, BSEE, '97), who took the course last spring. "It was a combination of communication theory, electronics, and IC design. It tied together many different areas in a single topic and gave me a feel for all the areas," he said.

Neiyer Correal (Ph.D., '99) agreed, "It was one of the classes I most enjoyed. It's very challenging and forced me to think outside the box."

Patwari and Correal were both researchers in the department's Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG) and enjoyed looking at communications from another angle. "I know what goes on between radios, but this helped me understand how to build them. What you can actually build limits what you think you can build."

The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, October 15, 1999
Questions or comments about the content: eqb@rightwordonline.com
Technical questions or comments: webmaster@birch.ee.vt.edu