Cooled integrated circuit amplifies with lowest noise so far

Mar 23, 2013
Cooled integrated circuit amplifies with lowest noise so far
A fundamental property for the first microwave amplifier in the radio receiver is its noise figure. This is normally given in decibel (dB). A typical noise figure for low-noise amplifiers in mobile communication systems is tenths of a decibel. Credit: Chalmers University of Technology

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have demonstrated an integrated amplifier with the lowest noise performance so far. The amplifier offers new possibilities for detecting the faintest electromagnetic radiation, for example from distant galaxies.

Last year, Chalmers reported a world record for a low-noise amplifier in the prestigious journal Electron Device Letters. The amplifier exhibited a minimum noise figure of 0.018 dB across a bandwidth of 4-8 GHz. However, since the low-noise amplifier was designed in a hybrid solution, scaling up to larger quantities turned out to be very difficult.

Chalmers has now in collaboration with a company called Low-Noise Factory published an article on an integrated ultra-low-noise amplifier. The scientists have developed a unique -based process for what is known as high transistors (HEMT). Transistors and other have been fabricated on a monolithic chip on an indium phosphide wafer. All parts of the design such as semiconductor layers, components, process and circuit design have been optimised for the lowest noise performance.

As a result, an integrated 2.0 x 0.75 mm amplifier with an ultra-low-noise figure of 0.045 dB was demonstrated. The amplifier had a very large bandwidth of 0.5-13 GHz and a high gain exceeding 38 dB across the frequency band. In order to show such extreme performance, the amplifier was cooled to minus 260 degrees of Celsius.

"The combination of high gain, large bandwidth and ultra-low-noise figure makes this circuit very attractive for large multipixel arrays containing thousands of antennas," says Jan Grahn, research group leader at Chalmers.

"The integrated ultra-low-noise process enables the fabrication of thousands of amplifiers with identical performance. One potential future application is in the world's largest radio telescope SKA (Square Kilometer Array) that is being planned, an international project where the Onsala Space Observatory at Chalmers is one of the acting members. In huge applications such as the SKA, even a small noise-figure reduction in the first low-noise amplifier in the receiver chain may potentially bring about major savings in the final system design."

Explore further: X-ray detector on plastic delivers medical imaging performance

More information: IEEE transactions on microwave theory and techniques, 61 ( 2 ) s. 871-877 ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6403592

Related Stories

Novel optical amplifier without the noise

Jul 08, 2011

Researchers in Sweden have succeeded in delivering an optical amplifier capable of amplifying light with extremely low noise. The study is published in the journal Nature Photonics.

Space probes will be more useful with new amplifiers

Apr 26, 2012

Researchers at Chalmers have developed a new generation of amplifiers, which the European Space Agency (ESA) will be using throughout the world to receive signals from its space probes and satellites. ESA ...

Recommended for you

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

10 hours ago

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

23 hours ago

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

23 hours ago

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

23 hours ago

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Android gains in US, basic phones almost extinct

Apr 18, 2014

The Google Android platform grabbed the majority of mobile phones in the US market in early 2014, as consumers all but abandoned non-smartphone handsets, a survey showed Friday.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

DracX
not rated yet Mar 23, 2013
Excellent article loved it.
_traw_at
not rated yet Mar 24, 2013
I wonder how much indium is potentially available for this application...
ValeriaT
not rated yet Mar 24, 2013
I wonder how much indium is potentially available for this application...
This infographic says ten years and the indium resources will be over...
In order to show such extreme performance, the amplifier was cooled to minus 260 degrees of Celsius.
Was previous record achieved with such cooling too? If not, then the noise levels are incomparable.
rsklyar
1 / 5 (1) Mar 25, 2013
If would say without cheating, it should be titled as: " ... circuit amplifies UHF with lowest ..."!
QuixoteJ
1 / 5 (1) Mar 27, 2013
In order to show such extreme performance, the amplifier was cooled to minus 260 degrees of Celsius.
Was previous record achieved with such cooling too? If not, then the noise levels are incomparable.
I was wondering the same thing. Great article but I'm wondering if these noise figures are even applicable to the SKA as mentioned. Perhaps the real-world temperature figures are also very good.

If would say without cheating, it should be titled as: " ... circuit amplifies UHF with lowest ..."!
Right on! I was more excited from a general amplifier standpoint until I saw the frequency ranges.

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...