RF, Optical Wideband Phase Shifter Technology Breakthrough

Phase shifters have uses in both optics and radio communications. Wide bandwidths are required for applications such as radio astronomy (see the article on the CSIRO work in this week's RF Report), Ultra-Wideband (UWB) communications and imaging, satellites, radar and short range microwave systems. Phase shifters based on tuned circuits are limited in bandwidth. It's possible to use optical phase shifters for RF to attain bandwidths of 1 GHz or more, but these have been expensive to construct.

A team of researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València's iTEAM (El Instituto de Telecomunicaciones y Aplicaciones Multimedia) in Spain has created the first, tunable broadband radio frequency (RF) photonic phase shifter. Because it is based on a single semiconductor element, the device will be cheap to manufacture and help save up to 80 percent on energy consumption.

"The relevance of this contribution is twofold. First, a 75 percent reduction--in comparison with previous designs--in the number of components needed will make it possible to save some of the space that the phase shifter occupies when it is integrated into a chip, and, consequently, to save in the production cost too," said Jose Capmany, head of UPV's iTEAM. "Moreover, reducing the number of active elements from five to one means a saving in energy consumption of up to 80 percent."

iTeam research Salvador Sales, commented, "Traditional phase shifters, based on microwave technologies, are limited in bandwidth and the possibility of tuning is also limited. By using photonic technology instead, we have been able to overcome both limitations."

This information is from a news releases from European Union's CORDIS. A paper describing the work was published in Optics Express.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.