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McMaster University

Microelectronics, Microwave, Photonics Research


The microelectronics research group focuses on microelectronic, nanoelectronic and optoelectronic components and systems. Ongoing projects address low-power and low-voltage radio-frequency integrated circuits for wireless communications, device physics, modeling and reliability, low noise issues, development of novel characterization techniques, use of microelectronics in emerging biomedical/biochemical/medical applications, and organic and polymeric semiconductor devices. Optoelectronic integrated circuits merge thousands of microscopic integrated VCSEL laser diodes and photodetectors fabricated in GaAs onto a conventional silicon substrate containing millions of logic gates. This enabling technology combines the immense bandwidth of optics along with the processing power of silicon for high-speed networking. System-on-a-chip design and test research tackles the very rapid increase in digital integrated circuit complexity and enables novel applications on reconfigurable hardware, such as multimedia processing.

Microwaves and Computational Electromagnetics

The microwave group carries out research on a number of industrial and biomedical projects. The Computational Electromagnetics Research Laboratory is part of the microwave group providing expertise in time-domain and frequency-domain CAD tools, electromagnetic theory and methodologies. Leading-edge research is directed toward the design, simulation, optimization, fabrication, and testing of radio-frequency, microwave and millimeter-wave passive and active electronic and ultrasonic devices, circuits and antennas for the communications industry. The group is engaged in research on radiation hazards associated with modern handheld wireless devices. Another major biomedical project focuses on microwave imaging for breast cancer detection.

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The photonics research group conducts leading-edge research into photonic devices and systems for applications in communications networks. A common theme of the research is design, modeling, simulation, and characterization of novel photonic devices and integrated circuits with particular emphasis on development of innovative computer-aided design methodologies and software tools. Some of the on-going research topics are advanced laser diodes, optical amplifiers, electro-optic modulators, passive photonic devices and ICs such as filters and wavelength multiplexers/demultiplexers, as well as fiber-optical communication systems.

Current Research Facilites

Extensive experimental and modeling/simulation facilities exist for the experimental, design and simulation aspects of our research programs in microelectronics, microwaves and photonics. Our laboratories are among the best in North America for our current and near-future research work. We have three vector network analyzer systems capable of frequency measurements from 45 MHz to 110 GHz, a noise parameter system from 2 to 26 GHz,and several spectrum analyzers from MHz to 26 GHz. These equipment are used for device and circuit testing such as mixer conversion gain, two-tones and noise characteristics, oscillators, phase-locked loops, amplifiers, and other RFICs, analog and digital ICs characterization. We also have dynamic signal analyzers and low noise current/voltage amplifiers for low frequency noise measurements for modeling, characterization and reliability research. We have two DC and microwave on-wafer measurement systems with camera for on-chip device, circuit and system testing. Semiconductor parameter analyzers, electrometer/high-end multimeters, capacitance/conductance-voltage/frequency meters, high-end current-voltage sources and a gain/phase impedance analyzer for DC and lower frequency measurements (up to 100MHz) exist in the microelectronics research laboratory. Our labs are also equipped with IC automatic test and validation equipment, high speed digital (20GHz), real-time (1GHz) and several typical laboratory oscilloscopes, high frequency signal and function generators for real-time circuit and system testing and evaluation. Temperature-varying facilities also exist for microelectronic and photonic component and system characterization and evaluation. For modeling and simulation, we have many high-end SUN workstations and personal computer systems with state-of-the-art technology, device and circuit modeling software such as CADENCE package, ADS package, Avant!, several electromagnetic simulators such as Fidelity, HFSS, Ansoft and AWR, MMICAD, Spectre RF, HSPICE, PSPICE. We also have other general purpose software such as Matlab, Mathcad and C++ for implementing routines and algorithms for parameter extraction, optimization, de-embedding etc. and for our custom physics-based modeling routines, programs and user-interfaces. System-on-a-chip design and test research uses in-house developed software interfaced to third party electronic design automation tools from Cadence, Synopsys, Mentor Graphics, Syntest and CoWare.

The Photonic Characterization Laboratory is being equipped to conduct leading-edge research in active, passive and functional photonic devices including semiconductor laser diodes, semiconductor optical amplifiers, EA and MZ modulators, power couplers, wavelength filters, wavelength multiplexers and demultiplexers and their combinations through either monolithic or hybrid integrations. With emphasis on their dynamic aspects in fiber-optic communication systems and networks, device steady-state, dynamic and noise properties and their effects on system/network performance can readily be characterized in this laboratory through time and/or frequency domain measurements. Following is a list of the equipment serving for this purpose: wideband tunable laser source and thermal light source, signal generator and sweeper, short pulse generator, polarization controller and analyzer, optical spectral analyzer, lightwave signal analyzer, lightwave component analyzer, communication signal analyzer, error performance analyzer and jittering analyzer. This laboratory is also equipped by a pair of 10Gb/s lightwave transmitter and receiver as a standard point-to-point lightwave transmission testbed for device qualification. A high-end bit error rate tester (possibly up to 43 GBps) will be purchased shortly for research at 1550 nm and another tester for measurements at lower bit-rates between 500 and 900 nm for silicon-based optical receivers.

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