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This paper presents a new approach for power amplifier design using deep submicron CMOS technologies. A transformer based voltage combiner is proposed to combine power generated from several low-voltage CMOS amplifiers. Unlike other voltage combining transformers, the architecture presented in this paper provides greater flexibility to access and control the individual amplifiers in a voltage combined amplifier. In this work, this voltage combining transformer has been utilized to control output power and improve average efficiency at power back-off. This technique does not degrade instantaneous efficiency at peak power and maintains voltage gain with power back-off. A 1.2 V, 2.4 GHz fully integrated CMOS power amplifier prototype was implemented with thin-oxide transistors in a 0.13 mum RF-CMOS process to demonstrate the concept. Neither off-chip components nor bondwires are used for output matching. The power amplifier transmits 24 dBm power with 25% drain efficiency at 1 dB compression point. When driven into saturation, it transmits 27 dBm peak power with 32% drain efficiency. At power back-off, efficiency is greatly improved in the prototype which employs average efficiency enhancement circuitry.
Date of Publication: March 2008