Single chip transmits and receives radio signals

March 14, 2017 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Cornell engineers have devised a method for transmitting and receiving radio signals on a single chip, which could ultimately help change the way wireless communication is done.

Separating the send and receive bands is difficult enough, but the problem is compounded by the ever-increasing number of bands in the latest devices, which handle everything wireless technology has to offer. From GPS to Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, each band requires a filter to stop the strong transmit signals from drowning out reception.

Alyosha Molnar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), and Alyssa Apsel, professor of ECE, have come up with an ingenious way to separate the signals. Their work is described in "A wideband fully integrated software-defined transceiver for FDD and TDD operation," published online in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Journal of Solid-State Circuits.

Their idea lies in the transmitter – actually a series of six subtransmitters – all hooked into an artificial transmission line. Each of the subtransmitters send signals at regular intervals, and their individually weighted outputs are programmed so that they combine to produce a radio frequency signal in the forward direction, at the antenna port, while canceling out at the receive port.

The programmability of the individual outputs allows this simultaneous summation and cancellation to be tuned across a wide range of frequencies, and to adjust to signal strength at the antenna.

"In one direction, it's a filter and you basically get this cancellation," Apsel said. "And in the other direction, it's an amplifier."

"You put the antenna at one end and the amplified signal goes out the antenna, and you put the receiver at the other end and that's where the nulling happens," Molnar said. "Your receiver sees the antenna through this wire, the transmission line, but it doesn't see the transmit signal because it's canceling itself out at that end."