|RFIC 2009 chip from Jason May and Gabriel Rebeiz.|
This advance is from the laboratories of Gabriel Rebeiz, a professor of electrical engineering at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering and a world leader in millimeter-wave RFIC design, phased-arrays and Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS).
The IEEE RFIC Symposium is the premiere annual conference in the world for reporting recent research developments in Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits (RFICs). These circuits are responsible for the communications links in all wireless devices. This year, UC San Diego has 11 (out of 140) papers at the conference, which is more than any other university.
"Our success at this conference is a direct result of the investment that UC San Diego has made over many decades in the field of wireless communications. The RFIC field requires an interdisciplinary team, because it requires innovation in the areas of electronic devices, integrated circuit theory, electromagnetic theory and communications systems. The broad skills of the UCSD faculty have made this extraordinary level of research innovation possible," said Larry Larson, Professor and Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
|Jason May, an electrical engineering PhD student at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering and the first author on the RFIC 2009 paper|
Millimeter wave imaging
The new circuit includes an antenna that can be used to capture radiation in the millimeter wave frequency emitted from the human body and from objects under a person's clothing. This radiation passes through clothing largely or completely unaffected.
Imagers operating at millimeter waves are particularly useful because they can resolve images down to a millimeter scale, fine enough detail to identify small objects and separate items on a person's body.
"By the size of the signal we detect, we can tell the temperature of the signal we are looking at," explained Gabriel Rebeiz, the electrical engineering professor at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering supervising the project. "An imager with our chip could resolve images down to a millimeter scale, enabling us to identify very small objects that are on someone's body," said Rebiez.
"A ceramic knife concealed against a person's leg, for instance, might appear one or half of one degree cooler than the rest of their body. We could then tell that something is there and we could exactly determine its shape," said May.
Using signal processing, these kinds of scanners can put together a temperature map of a person's body that includes any objects underneath the clothing.
Imagers, high speed communications systems, and other applications that operate at the millimeter wave frequency are poised to become increasingly prevalent and influential as the circuit technologies for integrating them with existing silicon technologies matures.