Development, Implementation, and Characterization of a 64-Element Dual-Polarized Phased-Array Antenna Module for 28-GHz High-Speed Data Communications

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Silicon-based millimeter-wave (mm-wave) phased-array technologies are enabling directional wireless data communications at Gb/s speeds. In this paper, we review and discuss the challenges of implementing a multichip phased-array antenna module for mm-wave applications using organic buildup substrate technology. A prototype test vehicle has been fabricated and studied to evaluate the antenna and interconnect performance, dielectric properties, package substrate warpage conditions at different temperatures, chip- and board-level joint process reliability, and thermal management feasibility for cooling. Based on the learning from the test vehicle, an organic-based multilayered phased-array antenna package for 28-GHz mm-wave radio access applications is implemented. The package incorporates 64 dual-polarized antenna elements and features an air cavity common to all antennas. Direct probing measurements on a single-antenna element of the package show over 3 GHz of bandwidth and 3-dBi gain at 28 GHz. A phased-array transceiver module has been developed with the package; the module includes four SiGe BiCMOS ICs attached using flip-chip assembly. Module-level measurements in the TX mode show a 35-dB near-ideal output power increase for 64-element power combining; 64-element radiation pattern measurements are reported with a steering range of ± 50° without tapering in off-boresight directions, and 64-element radiation pattern measurements with tapering show achievement of a sidelobe level lower than -20 dB. The transceiver modules achieved 20.64-Gb/s throughput with 256 QAM and 800-MHz bandwidth in direct over-the-air link measurement results.