A Low-Power 2.4GHz CMOS Receiver Using BAW Resonators

Selective LNA Schematic BAW and CMOS chip
A 2.4GHz BAW-based selective LNA

It has already been a few years since the first appearance of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) in academic research. Since then, a broad number of devices have been designed under this generic term. Bulk-acoustic wave (BAW) resonators are among the few of them which have become exploited at industrial level. They are mainly used to implement filters for mainstream telecommunication applications.

In a different domain, potential applications for integrated wireless transceivers are flourishing. While some of them require always higher data rates, others need devices with low data rate but even lower power consumption. The goal of this thesis is to explore ways of using BAW resonators to implement building blocks for such a low-power radio and actually verify the postulate that this could help improving power consumption as well as miniaturize key functionalities. For the active integrated circuit part, the choice of a standard digital 0.18µm CMOS process established itself for its low cost and ubiquity.

The specifications for the developed radio receiver are calculated for a physical layer derived from the well known Bluetooth communication protocol in the 2.4GHz ISM band with similar applications scenarii but with much lower data rates and wider channel spacing.

After presenting the advantages and limitations of the devices, the implications for using BAWresonators to implement a low-power radio are investigated at circuit and system levels and a super-heterodyne architecture is proposed. A selective low-noise amplifier (LNA) is used at the circuit front-end to yield image and blocker rejection. Measurements for the RF front-end comprising an external balun, the selective LNA, a first downconversionmixer and an intermediate-frequency (IF) amplifier showed an overall noise figure of 11dB for a current consumption of 1.5mA under 1.2V. The high selectivity of the design yields an image rejection ratio of at least 50dB and allows to decrease linearity requirements and thus power consumption. A slightly improved version of the same front-end integrated together with the analog baseband signal processing chain but still using external local oscillators showed sensitivities of -96dBm at 100kbps symbol rate and -93dBm at 200kbps with an external state-of-the art FSK demodulator, allowing to extrapolate a global noise figure of 12.2dB for a global current consumption of 2.3mA under 1.2V.

The proposed solution for the frequency synthesis uses both a BAW oscillator for the first downconversion to IF and a quadrature quasi-harmonic relaxation oscillator to translate the signals to baseband. The relaxation oscillator is embedded within a phase-locked loop (PLL) for which all the required blocks are discussed. Particularly, a novel modular multi-modulus frequency divider is presented, which does not necessitate complicated logic to yield the wanted division ratio and uses dynamic logic. The necessary digital circuitry to control the frequency generation is discussed as well.

Finally, measurements for the complete receiver using the proposed frequency synthesis as well as digital control and demodulator implemented on FPGA are presented.