Press Release

TRW/JPL High-Frequency Indium Phosphide Chips Enable Smaller, More Capable Telecom and Remote Sensing Satellites

By SpaceRef Editor
November 27, 2000
Filed under ,

A new
family of high-frequency, indium phosphide (InP) integrated circuits
developed by TRW and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL), Pasadena, Calif., promises to increase data rates, shrink the
size and increase the overall performance capabilities of
next-generation satellite communications and remote sensing payloads.

The low-noise amplifier (LNA) millimeter wave monolithic
integrated circuits (MMICs) were fabricated using TRW’s 0.07-micron
gate high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) process. They offer
state-of-the-art gain and noise figures at operating frequencies
ranging from 100 billion cycles per second (100 GHz) to 215 GHz. The
215 GHz InP LNA is the highest frequency integrated circuit ever

The chips’ frequencies are significant because the International
Telecommunications Union, which coordinates international spectrum
allocation, in April opened spectrum in the 70-180 GHz frequency bands
to future radio, satellite communications, radar and radio astronomy

“High frequency and low noise are critical parameters for
next-generation telecommunications and scientific satellite
applications,” said Dwight Streit, TRW’s vice president and executive
director, Advanced Semiconductors. “TRW’s mature InP chip technology
positions us to develop smaller, more sensitive and more
power-efficient instruments for remote sensing applications such as
radio astronomy and atmospheric sounding.

“The chips’ high frequencies also enable higher data rates for
commercial wireless communications links while their low-noise figures
improve the quality of those links.”

The new LNA chips are described in a technical paper that was
presented by TRW and JPL at the 2000 GaAs IC Symposium held earlier
this month in Seattle.

TRW’s family of high-frequency InP MMICs includes a three-stage,
single-ended 112-120 GHz LNA providing 15 dB of gain and a noise
figure of 4-5 dB; a three-stage single-ended 165-190 GHz LNA with a
demonstrated 14 dB of gain and a noise figure of 7 dB; and a
six-stage, single-ended 160-215 GHz LNA with 15-27 dB of gain with a
measured module noise figure of 8 dB at 170 GHz. Gain is a measure of
a chip’s ability to amplify a signal, while noise figure is a measure
of a chip’s ability to amplify a signal without distortion.

“The diversity and performance of these LNA chips underscore TRW’s
success in developing a stable, robust process for fabricating
high-frequency, high-performance indium phosphide MMICs,” added
Streit. “That process serves as the foundation of our plans to apply
the technology to a broad range of commercial and government

Last month, TRW announced the completion of a high-volume InP
production facility, which will produce TRW’s advanced InP for rapidly
growing telecommunications market applications, including fiber optic
transmission systems, mobile wireless communications and broadband
wireless services. Fabrication equipment is being installed, with
initial production scheduled for early 2001.

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, TRW provides advanced technology
products and services for the global automotive, space and defense,
telecommunications and information technology markets. The company’s
1999 sales totaled approximately $17 billion. TRW news releases are
available on the Internet at and

SpaceRef staff editor.