Hwang, Chi Jeon
Ultra-low power radio transceiver for wireless sensor networks.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The objective of this thesis is to present the design and implementation of ultra-low power radio transceivers at microwave frequencies, which are applicable to wireless sensor network (WSN) and, in particular, to the requirement of the Speckled Computing Consortium (or SpeckNet). This was achieved through quasi-MMIC prototypes and monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) with dc power consumption of less than 1mW and radio communication ranges operating at least one metre.
A wireless sensor network is made up of widely distributed autonomous devices incorporating sensors to cooperatively monitor physical environments. There are different kinds of sensor network applications in which sensors perform a wide range of activities. Among these, a certain set of applications require that sensor nodes collect information about the physical environment. Each sensor node operates autonomously without a central node of control. However, there are many implementation challenges associated with sensor nodes. These nodes must consume extremely low power and must communicate with their neighbours at bit-rates in the order of hundreds of kilobits per second and potentially need to operate at high volumetric densities. Since the power constraint is the most challenging requirement, the radio transceiver must consume ultra-low power in order to prolong the limited battery capacity of a node. The radio transceiver must also be compact, less than 5×5 mm2, to achieve a target size for sensor node and operate over a range of at least one metre to allow communication between widely deployed nodes.
Different transceiver topologies are discussed to choose the radio transceiver architecture with specifications that are required in this project. The conventional heterodyne and homodyne topologies are discussed to be unsuitable methods to achieve low power transceiver due to power hungry circuits and their high complexity. The super-regenerative transceiver is also discussed to be unsuitable method because it has a drawback of inherent frequency instability and its characteristics strongly depend on the performance of the super-regenerative oscillator. Instead, a more efficient method of modulation and demodulation such as on-off keying (OOK) is presented. Furthermore, design considerations are shown which can be used to achieve relatively large output voltages for small input powers using an OOK modulation system. This is important because transceiver does not require the use of additional circuits to increase gain or sensitivity and consequently it achieves lower power consumption in a sensor node.
This thesis details the circuit design with both a commercial and in-house device technology with ultra-low dc power consumption while retaining adequate RF performance. It details the design of radio building blocks including amplifiers, oscillators, switches and detectors. Furthermore, the circuit integration is presented to achieve a compact transceiver and different circuit topologies to minimize dc power consumption are described. To achieve the sensitivity requirements of receiver, a detector design method with large output voltage is presented. The receiver is measured to have output voltages of 1mVp-p for input powers of -60dBm over a 1 metre operating range while consuming as much as 420μW.
The first prototype combines all required blocks using an in-house GaAs MMIC process with commercial pseudomorphic high electron mobility transistor (PHEMT). The OOK radio transceiver successfully operates at the centre frequency of 10GHz for compact antenna and with ultra-low power consumption and shows an output power of -10.4dBm for the transmitter, an output voltage of 1mVp-p at an operating range of 1 metre for the receiver and a total power consumption of 840μW. Based on this prototype, an MMIC radio transceiver at the 24GHz band is also designed to further improve the performance and reduce the physical size with an advanced 50nm gate-length GaAs metamorphic high electron mobility transistor (MHEMT) device technology.
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