Skip to Main Content
The recent advances made in MEMS and particularly in RF MEMS technology are enabling new architectures for the integration of RF transceivers with improved performance and smaller size. Several fundamental building blocks benefit from the availability of high-Q resonators in the RF front-end, the analog baseband and the frequency synthesizer to lower power consumption, phase noise and die area. In addition, the compatibility of MEMS with CMOS opens the door to a higher integration level using for example an above-IC approach. This paper presents the recent work made at CSEM in the field of ultra low-power transceiver for wireless sensor network applications. It first presents the high-Q resonators, including the BAW resonators used in the RF front-end and in the RF oscillator together with MEMS used in the low frequency oscillators and IF section. These MEMS are activated thanks to an A1N piezo layer avoiding the need for high voltage generation which is incompatible with the low-power and low-voltage requirement. These MEMS are also temperature compensated by the combination of additional layers and electronics means. The paper then focuses on the main building blocks that can take advantage of high-Q resonators starting with the RF front-end. The fundamentals of oscillators built around high-Q devices is described, highlighting the basic trade-offs. Finally, new approaches for the analog baseband are described. This includes an example of a quadrature Sigma-Delta converter combining the different functions of anti-alias and image-reject filter together with analog-to-digital conversion. An alternative to traditional Sigma-Delta oversampled converters is the use of phase analog-to-digital converters to directly quantize the phase information without the need to convert the amplitude. This innovative approach can save power and complexity for all wireless applications using phase or frequency modulations.