Theses Doctoral

Fully-Integrated Magnetic-Free Nonreciprocal Components by Breaking Lorentz Reciprocity: from Physics to Applications

Reiskarimian, Negar

Reciprocity is a fundamental physical precept that governs wave propagation in a wide variety of physical domains. The various reciprocity theorems state that the response of a system remains unchanged if the excitation source and the measuring point are interchanged within a medium, and are closely related to the concept of time reversal symmetry in physics. Lorentz reciprocity is a fundamental characteristic of linear, time-invariant electronic and photonic structures with symmetric permittivity and permeability tensors. However, breaking reciprocity enables the realization of nonreciprocal components, such as isolators and circulators, which are critical to electronic, optical and acoustic systems, as well as new functionalities and devices based on novel wave propagation modes.

Nonreciprocal components have traditionally relied on magnetic materials such as ferrites that lose reciprocity under the application of an external magnetic field through the Faraday Effect. The need for a magnetic bias limits the applicability of such approaches in small-form-factor Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor (CMOS)-compatible integrated devices. One of the main features of CMOS technology is the availability of high-speed transistor switches which can be turned ON and OFF, modulating the conductance of the medium.

In this dissertation, a novel approach to break Lorentz reciprocity is presented based on staggered commutation in Linear Periodically-Time-Varying (LPTV) circuits. We have demonstrated the world’s first CMOS passive magnetic-free nonreciprocal circulator through spatio-temporal conductivity modulation. Since conductivity in semiconductors can be modulated over a wide range (CMOS transistor ON/OFF conductance ratio at Radio Frequency (RF)/millimeter-wave frequencies is as high as 103-105), commutated LPTV networks break reciprocity within a deeply sub-wavelength form-factor with low loss and high linearity.

The resulting nonreciprocal components find application in antenna interfaces of wireless communication systems, connecting the Transmitter (TX) and the Receiver (RX) to a shared antenna. This is particularly important for full-duplex wireless, where the TX and the RX operate simultaneously at the same frequency band and need to be highly isolated in order to maintain receiver sensitivity. Multiple fully-integrated full-duplex receivers are demonstrated in this dissertation that best show the synergy between the physical concept and application-based implementations by using circuit techniques to benefit the system-level performance, such as TX-side linearity enhancement and co-design and co-optimization of the antenna interface and the RX and utilization of the multi-phase structure of our antenna interfaces for analog beamforming in multi-antenna systems.

Finally, this dissertation discusses some of the fundamental limits of space-time modulated nonreciprocal structures, as well as new directions to build nonreciprocal components which can ideally be infinitesimal in size. A novel family of inductor-less nonreciprocal components including circulators and isolators have been demonstrated that achieve a wide tuning range in an infinitesimal form-factor. This family of devices combine reciprocal and nonreciprocal modes of operation, through the transfer properties of fundamental and harmonics of the system and enable a wide variety of functionalities.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Krishnaswamy, Harish
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 23, 2020