Jones Microwave Demonstrates High-Power, High-Speed mmWave Light-Activated Waveguide Switch

Jones Microwave Demonstrates High-Power, High-Speed mmWave Light-Activated Waveguide Switch

Jones Microwave, a new company that is designing and developing cutting-edge switch technologies, has successfully demonstrated a light-activated solid-state waveguide switch that provides decreased size and weight along with increased power, speed, and efficiency. This fundamental switching technology will significantly expand the available mmWave spectrum from 30 to 300 GHz. The future of wireless communication lies in the millimeter-wave (mm-wave) spectrum, from 30 GHz to 300 GHz; frequencies far higher than ever used before in the telecommunications sector.

Jones Microwave provides a fundamental switching technology that will open up the mm-wave spectrum. The switch is made from only solid-state components with no moving parts, and it has power handling capabilities limited only by the waveguide in which it is constructed, not the switch element itself. Easily insertable into existing systems, the switch replaces electromechanical or PIN diode switches from 30 to 300 GHz, improving insertion loss, linearity, speed, reliability, and service lifetime while reducing size, weight, and cost. The switch also has the potential to operate up to sub-THz frequencies, offering an enabling platform technology for future 6G communication systems and sensors.

Called a light-activated solid-state plasma waveguide switch, with no moving parts, it has a virtually unlimited operational lifetime (greater than ten years) with high reliability. In addition, the optical bias control network of the technology is removed from the RF signal path, further improving the efficiency and linearity. The power handling capability is limited by the waveguide in which the switch is constructed, not the component itself.

The fundamental principle of Jones Microwave’s light-activated waveguide switches is based on a semiconductor obstacle placed in the main channel of a waveguide. By activating the obstacle with light, its electric properties can be tuned from an insulator to a conductor based on the principles of the photoconductive effect. Several integrated light sources are available, including laser diodes, vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL), optical fiber, and microLEDs. Thus, the reflection, transmission, and attenuation of millimeter-wave signals propagating through the waveguide channel can be electrically controlled.

The technology will allow telecommunication companies to offer integrated high-power and high-speed switching functionality within their mm-wave wireless backhaul systems for their future communication networks beyond 5G and into 6G. The technology will enable the test and measurement industry to develop faster, more reliable, and more efficient electrical characterization and calibration systems beyond 100 GHz, increasing their customer verification throughput for a greater volume of products. Within the military and defence industry, the technology will enable reconfigurable and multifunctional intelligent mm-wave 5G and future 6G networks for controlling the electromagnetic environment, providing improved real-time military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and command and control (C2).

The benefits of Jones Microwave’s technology are integration, decreased size and weight, increased power, linearity, and efficiency, and increased reliability and operation lifetime, all at a cost lower than currently available mm-wave technology.

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Publisher: everything RF