Theses Doctoral

Surpassing Fundamental Limits through Time Varying Electromagnetics

Nagulu, Aravind

Surpassing the fundamental limits that govern all electromagnetic structures, such as reciprocity and the delay-bandwidth-size limit, will have a transformative impact on all applications based on electromagnetic circuits and systems. For instance, violating principles of reciprocity enables non-reciprocal components such as isolators and circulators, which find application in full-duplex wireless radios, radar, biomedical imaging, and quantum computing systems. Overcoming the delay-bandwidth-size limit enables ultra-broadband yet extremely-compact devices whose size is not fundamentally related to the wavelength at the operating frequency. The focus of this dissertation is on using time-variance as a new toolbox to overcome these fundamental limits and re-imagine circuit and system design.

Traditional non-reciprocal components are realized using ferrite materials that loose their reciprocity under the application of external magnetic bias. However, the sheer volume, cost and weight of these magnet based non-reciprocal components coupled with their inability to be fabricated in conventional semiconductor processes, have limited their application to bulky and large-scale systems. Other approaches such as active-biased and non-linearity based non-reciprocity are compatible with semiconductor processes, however, they suffer from other poor linearity and noise performance. In this dissertation, using passive transistor switch as the modulating element, we have proposed the concept of spatio-temporal conductivity modulation and have demonstrated a gamut of non-reciprocal devices ranging from gyrators to isolators and circulators. Through novel circuit topologies, for the first time, we have demonstrated on-chip circulators with multi-watt input power handling, operation at high millimeter-wave frequencies, and tailor made circulators for emerging technologies such as simultaneous-transmit-and-receive MRI and quantum computing.

Delay-bandwidth-size trade-off is another fundamental electromagnetic limit, that constrains the delay imparted by a medium or a device within a fixed footprint to be inversely proportional to the signal bandwidth. It is this limit that governs the size of any microwave passive devices to be inversely proportional to its operating frequency. As a part of this dissertation, through intelligent clocking of switched capacitor networks we overcame the delay-bandwidth-size limit, thus resulting in infinitesimal, yet broadband microwave devices. Here we proposed a new paradigm in wave propagation where the properties such as the propagation delay and characteristic impedance does not depend on the constituent elements/materials of the medium, but rather heavily rely on the user-defined modulation scheme, thereby opening huge opportunities for realizing highly-reconfigurable passives. Leveraging these concepts, we demonstrated wide range of reciprocal an non-reciprocal devices including ultra-compact delay elements, highly-reconfigurable microwave passives, ultra-wideband circulators with infinitesimal form-factors and dispersion-free chip scale floquet topological insulators. Application of these devices have also been evaluated in real-world systems through our demonstrations of wideband, full-duplex receivers leveraging switched capacitors based true-time-delay interference cancelers and floquet topological insulator based antenna interfaces for full-duplex phased-arrays and ultra-wideband beamformers.

Furthermore, to cater the growing RF and microwave needs of future, large-scale quantum computing systems, we demonstrated a low-cryogenic, wideband circulator based on time modulation of superconducting devices. This superconducting circulator is expected to operate alongside the superconducting qubits, inside a dilution refrigerator at 10mK-100mK, thus enabling a tightly integrated quantum system. We also presented the design and implementation of a cryogenic-CMOS clock driver chip that will generate the clocks required by the superconducting circulator. Finally, we also demonstrated the design and implementation of a low-noise, low power consumption, 6GHz - 8GHz cryogenic downconversion receiver at 4K for cryogenic qubit readout.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Krishnaswamy, Harish
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 20, 2022