Gain-Enhanced On-Chip Antenna Utilizing Artificial Magnetic Conductor Reflecting Surface at 94 GHz

  • Mahmoud Nafe

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Nowadays, there is a growing demand for high frequency-bandwidth mm-wave (30-300 GHz) electronic wireless transceiver systems to support applications such as high data-rate wireless communication and high resolution imaging. Such mm-wave systems are becoming more feasible due to the extreme transistor downscaling in silicon-based integrated circuits, which enabled densely-integrated high-speed elec- tronics operating up to more than 100 GHz with low fabrication cost. To further enhance system integrability, it is required to implement all wireless system compo- nents on the chip. Presently, the last major barrier to true System-on-Chip (SoC) realization is the antenna implementation on the silicon chip. Although at mm-wave frequencies the antenna size becomes small enough to fit on chip, the antenna performance is greatly deteriorated due the high conductivity and high relative permittivity of the silicon substrate. The negative e↵ects of the silicon substrate could be avoided by using a metallic reflecting surface on top of silicon, which e↵ectively isolates the antenna from the silicon. However, this approach has the shortcoming of having to implement the antenna on the usually very thin silicon oxide layer of a typical CMOS fabrication process (10’s of μm). This forces the antenna to be in a very close proximity (less than one hundredth of a wavelength) to the reflecting surface. In this regime, the use of conventional metallic reflecting surface for silicon shielding has severe e↵ects on the antenna performance as it tends to reduce the antenna radiation resistance resulting in most of the energy being absorbed rather than radiated. In this work, the use of specially patterned reflecting surfaces for improving on- chip antenna performance is investigated. By using a periodic metallic surface on top of a grounded substrate, the structure can mimic the behavior of a perfect mag- netic conductor, hence called Artificial Magnetic Conductor (AMC) surface. Unlike conventional ground plane reflecting surfaces, AMC surfaces generally enhance the radiation and impedance characteristics of close-by antennas. Based on this property, a ring-based AMC reflecting surface has been designed in the oxide layer for on-chip antennas operating at 94 GHz. Furthermore, a folded dipole antenna with its associ- ated planar feeding structures has been optimized and integrated with the developed ring-based AMC surface. The proposed design is then fabricated at KAUST clean- room facilities. Prototype characterization showed very promising results with good correlation to simulations, with the antenna exhibiting an impedance bandwidth of 10% (90-100 GHz) and peak gain of -1.4 dBi, which is the highest gain reported for on-chip antennas at this frequency band without the use of any external o↵-chip components or post-fabrication steps.
Date of AwardAug 4 2015
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorAtif Shamim (Supervisor)


  • one-chip antenna
  • System-on-chip
  • artificla magnetic conductor
  • hight impedence surface
  • mm-wave

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