Polymer Microwave Fibers: A high-speed, robust and low-cost alternative to copper and optical wireline communication

Technology scaling has enabled mm-wave (30-300GHz) circuits in cheap Silicon technologies. Furthermore, at these high frequencies, antennas can be integrated on-chip or in a package. However, free-space path-loss puts a limit on the distance that can be achieved for mm-wave wireless communication. This is commonly solved by using directional antennas. On the other hand, one could also use a directional channel to propagate the mm-wave signals from the transmitter to the receiver. As it turns out, mm-wave dielectric waveguide are very low-cost compared to coaxial cables. Furthermore, in contrast to optical, no EO or OE conversion is need and connector are far more robust than optical connectors. This talk will give an in-depth discussion of the research and development results on this topic, showing datarates up to 20Gbps and distances up to 15m, using standard 40nm CMOS, cheap and compact antennas and low-cost polymer fibers (PE, PP, PS and PTFE). The different aspects of the link, including the chip-design, the couplers and the channel optimization, will be highlighted, including a strong focus on the potential applications and pros and cons of this polymer microwave fiber solution.