Solution for real power measurement in any high frequency integrated circuit

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Technology abstract

Researchers from the Spanish have recently developed a method that faces the challenge to measure the output real power delivered by a system or electronic device to another one in high frequency applications (RF-radio frequency, microwave, millimeter wave). This spatially-resolved, non contact and quantitative approach takes advantage that the device is under normal operation and also allows its analysis for specific electrical and thermal working conditions.

Technology Description

As it is well-known, heat generation is a major issue in any electronic systems or devices, and thermal management strategies trend to mitigate their consequences: efficiency decrease, system failure or breakdown, safety problems in several final applications. However, misbehaviours in electronic systems can lead to critical errors that should be analyzed in debugging stages. In this point, their analysis could be crucial to improving the final design or even detect when different stages are not properly supplied, particularly for high frequency application, when they are part of more complex systems for signal conditioning, reception or transmission data (e.g. power amplifiers).
The determination of the real power delivered by the device to the output load is particularly difficult when the operating frequency increases. This is the case of RF applications (e.g. mobile phone communications or wifi 802.11), millimetre wave and (TeraHertz) THz frequencies (space communications) when the devices and systems are monolithically integrated being the access at local level or internal nodes highly difficult.
A local, easy-to-implement, and non-invasive solution based on lock-in thermography is used to capture thermal images which are post-processed to obtain temperature information pixel-by-pixel to finally determine how the power is delivered to the load by at least one of the active device, finally determining where the misbehaviour occurs. 

Innovations & Advantages

The main advantages and innovations are:

  • Non-invasive and spatially-resolved electro-thermal technique applicable to any high frequency electronic system under operation.
  • Flexible implementation with any other thermal imaging system.
  • Quantitative indicator of power consumption, suitable as a quality control tool for design, debug and diagnostics of amplification, conditioning, transmission or reception signals systems useful in several final applications, e.g. mobile phone communications or wifi (802.11) 

Current and Potential Domains of Application

N/A