The Potential of a Promising New Paradigm of Radio Frequency Signal Processing in the Acoustic Domain

2017 International Frequency Control Symposium Best Paper Award

A student research group mentored by Dr. Songbin Gong has received the 2017 International Frequency Control Symposium Best Paper Award. The paper is titled “Lithium Niobate Phononic Crystals for Radio Frequency SH0 Waves”.

Ruochen Lu
Ruochen Lu
Ruochen Lu, a Ph.D. candidate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Illinois explains the significance of the research team’s project:  “From our work, the LiNbO3 thin film platform has been demonstrated to manipulate phonon propagation with unprecedented wide bandwidth and low loss, potentially promising a new paradigm of radio frequency signal processing in the acoustic domain.”

Research at MNTL is a team sport, and Lu counts on his group for their insights and assistance in the micro fabrication process. He collaborates with Tomas Manzaneque, Yansong Yang, and Professor Songbin Gong, who is also Lu’s advisor.

This paper is part of a project named “DARPA Near Zero Power RF and Sensor Operations (DARPA N-ZERO)”. The goal of the overall project is to build a low power budget wake-up radio capable of being triggered upon a faint signal. The research team is working to integrate piezoelectric devices after the antenna to passively amplify the voltage swing across the follow-on CMOS circuit. With phononic crystal utilization, they are able to move some of the signal processing functions to the mechanical domain from the CMOS circuit, without consuming extra power, which will further reduce the power budget of the system. Additional applications using phononic crystals to build other RF devices are underway, as the research group moves forward with its work.

When asked about his future career, Lu responds “Research is exciting for me! It is a great opportunity to work on different topics and get to know the latest advances in my field of interest. I plan to find a position in academia.”