IMEC Rolls Out CMOS 3-5GHz Low-Power, Ultra-Wideband Pulser

10/14/2004 - IMEC has developed a completely integrated low-cost, low-power, pulse-based ultra-wideband pulser designed in 0.18m CMOS logic technology. Micro-sized at a mere 0.6 by 0.6mm2, the transmitter operates between 3- and 5GHz yet is flexible in both center frequency and bandwidth. This pulser is the key building block for the UWB transmitter which is currently under development.

Based on emerging ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, IMEC's extremely low-power pulser can achieve an average data rate of 10 kbps with as little as 5W average power consumption (with 10 pulses coding for one bit). It is believed that this number outperforms all UWB transmitters reported to date.

Wireless body area networks, which are being developed in IMEC's Human++ program, rely on ultra-low-power radios. By using a pulse-based UWB transmitter, which needs to operate only during the transmission of a short pulse, IMEC has been able to reduce the power consumption.

The flexible UWB pulser has been completely integrated in 0.18m CMOS logic technology to reduce size and cost. It is the first full CMOS implementation of such pulser ever reported. Until now traditional UWB solutions have used components, such as step recovery diodes, inductors or special antennas, which are difficult to integrate.

Current FCC (Federal Communications Commission) regulation authorizes UWB telecommunication between 3.1GHz and 10.6GHz. Since a UWB signal must have a minimum bandwidth of 500MHz, the UWB spectrum can be subdivided in sub-bands. IMEC's pulser operates between 3GHz and 5GHz. It can generate pulses from 2GHz bandwidth (useful for positioning applications) to 500MHz bandwidth with various center frequencies. The pulser achieves smooth pulse shapes with reduced side-lobe power to facilitate the filtering of the transmit signal into the FCC specification mask or eventually to another specific signal mask for multiple-band systems.

IMEC's ongoing development will focus next on the implementation of the pulser in a 90nm CMOS technology, enabling the transmitter to operate in the full UWB spectrum between 3GHz and 10GHz. In a future stage, the ultra-low-power UWB transmitter will be integrated into the sensor nodes of IMEC's body area network.

About IMEC
IMEC is a world leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next generations of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC's research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and a strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide, positions IMEC as a key partner with which to develop and improve technologies for future systems. IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has representatives in the US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1300 people includes over 380 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2003, its revenues were EUR 145 million. Further information on IMEC can be found at

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