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Device Miniaturization, Isolation & Multiband Operation

Fri, 05/23/2014 - 12:12pm
Meaghan Ziemba, Editor

WDD identifies the popular trends among RF power dividers.

According to a recent Wireless Design and Development (WDD) reader survey, some of the growing trends among RF power dividers, which are used for splitting or combining signals in the RF/microwave community, include wider bandwidth, device miniaturization, multiband operation, increased insulation and energy conservation, and isolation.

The survey also presents the prominent design challenges that RF microwave engineers face on a daily basis when producing RF power dividers.

Specifications

As RF power dividers continue to play an important role in the RF and microwave community, there are several specifications that engineers need to consider when implementing them into their designs. According to the survey, frequency range (80 percent) is the most important, followed by:

  • Isolation – 63%.
  • Insertion loss – 62%.
  • RF connector type – 52%.

With devices getting smaller and more complex, it is apparent why frequency range is a priority when designing RF power dividers; however, a small percentage of respondents (5 percent) point to other specifications, including:

  • Power handling capability.
  • Coupling loss.
  • Size and arrangement.
  • Surface mount components.

Design Challenges & Obstacles

Several of the WDD readers (54 percent) polled agree that size considerations are the biggest challenges to overcome when integrating RF power dividers, which makes sense when considering the growing demand of device miniaturization within the industry. Other challenges include:

  • Temperature range – 44%.
  • Environmental conditions – 37%.
  • Standards and certifications – 36%.
  • Ten percent of readers identified frequency range in some applications, as well as:
  • Multiple part numbers/brands for the same series of parts.
  • Power-handling capability.
  • Integration of isolation resistor.
  • Finding surface mount components for the right frequency ranges.
  • Device environmental screen.

Other considerable obstacles include cost (61 percent); frequency range (45 percent); energy efficiency and stability (44 percent); and design/test compliance requirements (34 percent).

Popular Trends

According to the survey, cost (40 percent) and energy efficiency and stability (31 percent) will play the most significant roles in future developments of RF power dividers. Design/test compliance (15 percent) and standards and certifications (10 percent) followed, while 5 percent added:

  • Performance specs.
  • Features beyond the basics.
  • New fabrication and material technologies.
  • PIM specs demanded by the licensees.
  • Packaging.

Future Developments

Answers varied when readers were asked about popular trends among the RF power divider industry. As always, write-in answers provided a bit of insight and entertainment:

  • “Indoor DAS design, because green energy trends are now irreversible.”
  • “Wideband operation/application – finally it comes to cost only.”
  • “Thermal stability, because sales growth happens when new applications are enabled – otherwise one is stuck in the commodity bloodbath.”
  • “Stagnant trends, designs have not changed much in the last 20 years. This is an indication of my interest and need – not a perceived trend.”
  • “There are many popular trends. I like the new millimeter wave power dividers, because insertion loss of a divider is difficult to improve as bandwidth is increased.”
  • “Increased range, smaller size, and better antenna, because I always want more efficiency.”
  • "Wider bandwidth while sacrificing isolation. More ports in a single divider."
  • “Haven't noticed one, as most of what I do is tried and true – cost seems to be driving all designs.”
  • “Smaller units that can have remote sensing to ‘divide or not divide’ remotely. Also, dividers with newer lower-cost connectors to allow shunting of signals along with divider usage, because new designs rely heavily on battery usage and preservation or longevity – battery power is the driver.”

This article originally appeared in the January/February print issue. Click here to read the full issue.

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