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6th European Conference on Antennas and Propagation (EUCAP)

A Low-Cost High-Efficiency Broadband Integrated


Antenna for 60-GHz Transceiver Modules
Maristella Spella and Anton de Graauw
NXP Semiconductors Research
5656AE Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Maristella.Spella@nxp.com

AbstractAn Antenna on Module (AoM) concept consisting


of a planar dipole on a low-cost mainstream BT epoxy laminate substrate
laminate, connected to a 60 GHz transceiver, is BGA active die
demonstrated in this paper. A standard ball-grid-array antenna
(BGA) assembly technology is used to create an air-gap
between the laminate and the application board, lowering
the effective dielectric constant and increasing the h2
substrate thickness; therefore the antenna bandwidth and
radiation efficiency are significantly improved.
BGA Air-Gap h1
Measurements of the 60 GHz transceiver module,
including a transceiver chip and antenna, demonstrate
that this concept offers more than 9 dBi gain over 20%
Ground plane Application Board
bandwidth with a well defined broadside radiation pattern Figure 1. Cross section package stack-up with integrated antenna.
and a high efficiency.
Measurements of a 60 GHz transceiver module, including
Keywords-60 GHz technology, millimeter wave, antenna in transceiver chip and antenna, demonstrate that this concept
package, antenna on module, wide bandwidth, high efficiency. offers more than 9 dBi gain over 20% bandwidth with a well
defined broadside radiation pattern and a high efficiency.
I. INTRODUCTION
II. ANTENNA DESIGN
The recent release of license-free frequency spectrum in
the 5766 GHz mm-wave frequency band has stimulated the The IC-package used for the antenna design is a laminate-
development of low cost radio systems for short-range ultra- based BGA package. A cross section of the IC-package is
high data-rate communication. shown in Fig. 1. The core of this technology is a BT epoxy
At mm-wave frequencies, the RF-performance of the laminate substrate with four copper layers which can be
system is no longer determined only by the transceiver circuits interconnected by vias. Solder balls are used to connect the
and the antenna, but also strongly depends on the package and active die to the laminate substrate and the bottom of the
the interconnection between the transceiver and the antenna. laminate substrate to the application board. The antenna is
The main challenge is to develop a compact and low cost designed on the top metal layer of the laminate substrate and
solution, combining an efficient wideband chip-to-antenna the top metal layer of the application board is used as a
connection and a wideband antenna that efficiently radiates reflecting ground plane for the antenna. The thicknesses h1
power in the target direction. In addition, the construction and h2 are respectively the air-gap and the laminate substrate
should offer mechanical support and protection to the chip and thickness. The antenna efficiency and bandwidth are
conduct the dissipated power from the chip to the significantly improved by using the air-gap formed between
environment. the laminate substrate and the application board during the
Antennas on Chip (AoC) solutions have been proposed in final assembly [5].
literature to meet the above requirements [1], but these The dielectric constant (Hr) and loss tangent (tan) of the
concepts generally suffer from low antenna efficiency and BT epoxy substrate at mm-wave frequencies were determined
bandwidth due to the large influence of the conductive silicon by the design and measurement of a set of dedicated
substrate. Antenna on Module (AoM) concepts generally offer transmission-line test structures, resulting in an Hr | 3.5 and
good antenna efficiency and bandwidth, but many published tan | 0.02 at 60 GHz.
solutions are expensive due to the use of special mm-wave At 60 GHz the substrate thickness and dielectric constant
substrate materials or special package assemblies like play an important role since they define the antenna
embedded air-cavities [2], [4]. performance in terms of impedance bandwidth and radiation
In this paper we propose an AoM concept consisting of a efficiency.
planar dipole on a low-cost mainstream BT epoxy laminate The dimensions of the laminate-based BGA package that
that is connected to the transceiver and to the application could be varied are h1 and h2.
board using standard BGA assembly technology.

978-1-4577-0919-7/12/$26.00 2011 IEEE 1271


z
1
0=1

Radiation Efficiency
0.8
2=3.5 h2
1=1 0.6
h1
x PEC y 0.4

Figure 2. Two layers stack-up. 0.2


0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700
h2 [um]
5
TM modes Figure 5.Simulated radiation efficiency vs. thickness h2.
TE modes 1 40
4
Number of Modes

Radiation Efficiency
3 0.9 30

Bandwidth [GHz]
2
0.8 20

1
0.7 10
0
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700
h2 [um]
100 400 200
500 300
600 700 800
Figure 3. Number of surface waves modes vs. thickness h2. h1 [um]
Figure 6 Simulated impedance bandwidth and radiation efficiency vs.
thickness h1 when h2 is equal to 360 m.

When higher order modes are excited, the radiation efficiency


decreases, therefore for large h2 most of the power is radiated
in the substrate.
The laminate substrate that has been chosen has four
Figure 4. hairpin matched half-wave dipole. copper layers due to the need to route a large number of traces
between the IC and the application board; consequently the
To understand the effect of the variation along these thickness h2 is fixed and only h1 can vary. When h2 is equal to
dimensions on the antenna performance, first the number of the predetermined value of 360 m and the thickness h1 varies
surface waves for the lossless package stack-up (Fig. 1) is between 120 m and 720 m, the radiation efficiency first
analyzed and then the radiation efficiency is simulated for a increases and then, for h1 larger than 620 m, rapidly
half-wave dipole on an infinite substrate. From the closed- decreases while the impedance bandwidth increases with h 1
form expressions in [6], the cut-off frequencies of the surface (Fig.6). The thickness h1 has been chosen to be equal to 420
waves, propagating along the two layers stack-up on a perfect m to achieve simultaneously a mechanical stable package, a
electric conductor (PEC), can be calculated. The substrate is high radiation efficiency and a relatively large impedance
assumed to be infinite in x and y and the dielectric constant 1 bandwidth.
is approximated to roughly 1. To understand how to control the surface waves effect on
In Fig. 2, h1 and h2 are the dielectric thicknesses and 1, 2 the far field radiation pattern, a 3D electromagnetic field
and 0 are the dielectric permittivities. When the thickness h2 simulator, ANSYS HFSS, was used to simulate the hairpin
varies the number of modes increases, as shown in Fig. 3 for a matched half-wave dipole on a 5x8 mm2 substrate and on a
practical range of substrate thickness values, while the number 10x10 mm2 ground plane. Fig. 7 shows the simulated
of modes remains constant as h1 changes. structures and the total E-field when the dipole is placed in the
To estimate the power radiated in the substrate due to the center [Fig. 7(a)], at the edge of the substrate [Fig.7(b)] and
modes excited in the dielectric layers, a 2.5D electromagnetic when a metal strip is added at half wavelength distance from
field simulator is used. A hairpin matched half-wave dipole the dipole [Fig. 7(c)]. From the simulations shown in Fig. 7, it
(Fig. 4) is simulated on the lossless layer stack-up of Fig. 1, can be stated that by using the air/dielectric interface and a
while varying h2. The field simulator assumes an infinite metal bar at half wavelength distance, the undesired radiation
substrate in the x and y dimensions. due to the surface waves are minimized. The metal bar also
Fig. 5 shows the radiation efficiency for different h2 when helps to minimize the influence of the silicon die on the
h1 is equal to an arbitrary value selected to observe the trend. antenna radiation pattern.

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Metal bar
1.8 mm
z

1.34 mm
y
x
2.5 mm

Laminate substrate Air


Figure 8. Layout of the dipole with metal strip (top view).
(a)

TX Antenna
Active Die
z
RX Antenna

BGA
y
7 mm
x Z
9 mm

Y
Ground plane
X
Figure 9 Simulation model of the complete module.
(b)

y
x

(c)
Figure 10. Total E-field of the complete module when the transmitting
antenna is active
Figure 7. Dipole on a 5x8 mm2 substrate. (a) Dipole in the center and total E-
field; (b) dipole at the edge and total E-field (c) dipole at the edge with metal
strip and total E-field. A 3D EM simulator was used to model the module
consisting of a transmitting and receiving antenna, silicon
The final antenna layout used in the package is depicted in chip, solder balls and some routing traces. As shown in Fig. 9,
Figure 8 and it consists of a hairpin matched half-wave negligible details were omitted to limit the simulation time and
dipole with a metal bar at half wavelength distance from the memory requirements while maintaining sufficient accuracy.
dipole. Fig. 9 shows both the transmitting and receiving The ground plane dimension used in the simulation model
antennas embedded in a module of 7x9 mm2. The module is is 16x16 mm2. However several simulations show that varying
placed on an electrically large ground plane that serves as the the ground plane dimension within certain boundaries does not
electrically large reflector. affect the antenna performance significantly.

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Port 1 Port 2

Figure 11 A fabricated 60 GHz antenna in package.

The simulated total E-field of the complete module, when


only the transmitting antenna is active, is shown in Fig. 10 and
it can be observed that it is more symmetrical compared to
Fig. 7. In fact everything in the module was optimized to
H-Arm
achieve a more regular radiation pattern.

III. RESULTS GSGSG Magic


AUT
probe
Fig. 11 shows the fabricated package of the single antenna Tee
with the metal bar assembled on the laminate with a reflector. (a)
The probe based antenna measurement set-up is shown in
Fig. 12. It consists of a magic Tee used in combination with a
GSGSG probe to generate a differential signal [Fig. 12 (a)] Z
and a horn antenna used to sense the far-field. The plastic arm
shown in Fig. 12(b) is used to scan in different planes with an
accuracy of 0.1 . Y
All the measurements were de-embedded up to the probe X
pad.
Fig. 13 shows the simulation and the measurement of the
input reflection coefficient and gain.
These results show that the measured return loss is better
than 10 dB and the gain is over 9 dBi between 55 GHz and 67
GHz which corresponds to 20% fractional bandwidth.
Fig. 14 shows the fabricated module assembled on a test-
board and used to measure the E-plane and H-plane radiation
patterns.
The measured and simulated E-plane and H-plane
radiation patterns of the full module, shown in Fig. 14, are (b)
given in Fig. 15 and in Fig. 16, respectively. A good matching Figure 12 Antenna measurement set-up (a) schematic, (b) hardware.
between measurements and simulations can be observed in
Fig. 15 only over the range from -40and +40. The
10
differences between measurements and simulations can be
|S11| [dB] & Gain[dBi]

Simulated S11
accounted to the simplifications used in the simulation model. 0 Measured S11
The H-plane radiation pattern in Fig. 16 shows a good Measured Gain
agreement between measurement and simulation over the -10 Simulated Gain
entire range of measurements.
The radiation efficiency, estimated from the measured -20
half- power beamwidth, is 75%.
-30

-40
50 55 60 65
Frequency [GHz]
Figure 13 Measured and simulated reflection coefficient of the antenna.

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this antenna can achieve a wide bandwidth, high gain and high
efficiency from 55 to 67 GHz.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The authors would like to thank S. Drago, J. Osorio, E. van


der Heijden, G. van der Weide, C. Vaucher, L.F. Tiemeijer
and R. Pijper of NXP for their valuable contributions to this
paper.

REFERENCES
[1] Y. P. Zhang and D. Liu, "Antenna-on-chip and antenna-in-package
solutions to highly integrated millimeter-wave devices for wireless
X communications," IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation,
vol. 57, no. 10, pp. 2830-2841, Oct. 2009
[2] T. Zwick, D. Liu, and B. P. Gaucher, Broadband planar superstrate
antenna for integrated millimeterwave transceivers, IEEE Transactions
on Antennas and Propagation,vol.54,no.10,Oct. 2006.
Y [3] D. Liu, HC Chen and B. Floyd, "An LTCC superstrate patch antenna for
Z 60-GHz package applications," 2010 IEEE International Symposium on
Figure 14 A fabricated 60 GHz transceiver module (the module is enclosed in Antennas and Propagation and CNC-USNC/URSI Radio Science
the red rectangle). Meeting, July 2010.
[4] D. Kam, D. Liu, A. Natarajan, S. Reynolds, and B. Floyd, "Low-cost
0 antenna-in-package solutions for 60-GHz phased-array systems," IEEE
Simulated Conference on Electrical Performance of Electronic Packaging and
Measured Systems (EPEPS), Oct. 2010.
Gain normalized [dBi]

[5] A. de Graauw, F. van Straten, Millimetre-wave radio antenna module,


-5 Patent WO/2010/058337, May 27, 2010.
[6] Guido Valerio, Member, IEEE, David R. Jackson, Fellow, IEEE, and
Alessandro Galli, Member, IEEE Formulas for the Number of Surface
-10 Waves on Layered Structures, IEEE transaction on Microwave theory
and techniques, vol. 58, no. 7, pp 1786-1795, July 2010.

-15

-20
-60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
Theta [deg]
Figure 15 Measured and simulated E-plane radiation pattern.

0
Measured
Simulated
Gain Normalized[dBi]

-5

-10

-15

-20
-60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
Theta[deg]
Figure 16 Measured and simulated H-plane radiation pattern.

IV. CONCLUSION
A 60 GHz Antenna-on-Module, using a low-cost and
standard laminate-based BGA module technology was
designed and evaluated. Measurement results of the input
reflection coefficient, radiation patterns and gain show that

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