Z. Cao, Q. Ma, A.B. Smolders, Y. Jiao, M.J. Wale, J. Oh, H. Wu and A.M.J. Koonen
IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics, vol. 52, pp. 1-20, 2016.
Publication year: 2016


Recently, the desired very high throughput of 5G wireless networks drives millimeter-wave (mm-wave) communication into practical applications. A phased array technique is required to increase the effective antenna aperture at mm-wave frequency. Integrated solutions of beamforming/beam steering are extremely attractive for practical implementations. After a discussion on the basic principles of radio beam steering, we review and explore the recent advanced integration techniques of silicon-based electronic integrated circuits (EICs), photonic integrated circuits (PICs), and antenna-on-chip (AoC). For EIC, the latest advanced designs of on-chip true time delay (TTD) are explored. Even with such advances, the fundamental loss of a silicon-based EIC still exists, which can be solved by advanced PIC solutions with ultra-broad bandwidth and low loss. Advanced PIC designs for mm-wave beam steering are then reviewed with emphasis on an optical TTD. Different from the mature silicon-based EIC, the photonic integration technology for PIC is still under development. In this paper, we review and explore the potential photonic integration platforms and discuss how a monolithic integration based on photonic membranes fits the photonic mm-wave beam steering application, especially for the ease of EIC and PIC integration on a single chip. To combine EIC, for its accurate and mature fabrication techniques, with PIC, for its ultra-broad bandwidth and low loss, a hierarchical mm-wave beam steering chip with large-array delays realized in PIC and sub-array delays realized in EIC can be a future-proof solution. Moreover, the antenna units can be further integrated on such a chip using AoC techniques. Among the mentioned techniques, the integration trends on device and system levels are discussed extensively.

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