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Parasitic Coupling in RF Circuits:

a Real-life experience

Frank Op ‘t Eynde
Central R&D Director
Alcatel Microelectronics

FO 1 Alcatel Microelectronics
Content

▼ Increasing the degree of integration is increasing


the risk of parasitic feedback

▼ Feedback on practical RF circuit design


experience:
● Parasitic coupling related to RX

● Parasitic coupling related to Synthesiser

● Parasitic coupling related to TX

FO 2 Alcatel Microelectronics
Degree of Integration

LNA

AUDIO PORT
R L
F F
BASEBAND
A A PROCESSOR
N N
A A
PA L L
O O µPROCESSOR

DATA PORT
G G

VCO RAM ROM


BATMAN

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RF Frontend
I(t) D
A/D E
LNA M
RXDATA
26 dB O
D RXCLK
Receiver digital part U
L
A
Q(t) T
A/D O
R
0,12,24 dB 26 dB
-6, 0,6,...,48 dB 8 D/A RSSIA
+2dB option
sin cos
NC
÷2 ÷ 4 /÷ 8 REFCLK

2*fLO
Serial Program m ing
VCO
φ Interface
÷N
analog test buss
output drivers
÷2 Filter Calibration
Control Block

cos sin P ower down control

I(t)
D/A M
O
PPA D
U TXDATA
Ref L
Offset A
Q(t) T
D/A O
R

D/A
Analog test buss D/A D/A
Iref generator Serial Test Mode
Vref generator interface
4 4 8

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DECT RF Frontend

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Bluetooth RF Frontend

RAM

ARM7
LOGIC
PLL

FLASH
RAM
RADIO
DCXO

RAM

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Parasitic coupling related to RX:
Sensitivity reduction

-86

-94

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Channel Nr.

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Sensitivity reduction (2)

LNA
ADC
• PLL reference frequency
= 2*channel spacing

ADC • /32/33 generates tones at


all multiples of Fref

/2 PD • parasitic coupling to
antenna input, via
/32/33
- VDD/VSS bondwires
- substrate
PA DAC
• at even channel numbers,
one tone coincides with
DAC input signal frequency

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Sensitivity reduction (3)

Solution:
1. Decouple Prescaler supply with 100 pF on-chip

2. Isolate Prescaler digital CMOS from substrate:


pMOS nMOS

N-well P-well sinker


P-epi
NBL

P-sub

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Parasitic coupling related to RX:
Interferer measurements
Receiver Selectivity

Useful Interferer
Signal

RX channel 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Ch 0 -81 -54 -27.5 -24 -33.5 -22.5 -22 -21.5 -34.5 -22
Ch 5 -22 -36.5 -25 -28.5 -54 -81 -53.5 -28 -24 -33.5
Ch 9 -19.5 -35.5 -20 -21.5 -22 -35 -25 -28.5 -54 -80.5

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RX Interferer measurements (2)
∆f

Receiver ADC
Selectivity

LNA ADC

/2 PD

Useful Interferer
/32/33
Signal

∆f
∆f
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RX Interferer Measurements (3)
Clock Clock
Running in parallel Generator
over > 1 mm 1.2 Volt
Voltage
Reference

LNA
ADC

ADC

/2 PD

/32/33

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Parasitic coupling related to
Synthesiser

FLO Fref
/2 P D

/ 32 / 33 /N • PLL spurs cause interferers


to mix into signal band

• Spurs are caused by:


- feedthrough of Fref
- parasitic coupling

Freq.

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PLL pulling by digital input pins

Fref

500 kHz
on TXin

UNCAL Marker 1 [T1] RBW 30 kHz RF Att 10 dB UNCAL Marker 1 [T1] RBW 30 kHz RF Att 10 dB
Ref Lvl -32.02 dBm VBW 3 kHz Ref Lvl -26.29 dBm VBW 3 kHz
0 dBm 2.40300000 GHz SWT 100 ms Unit dBm 0 dBm 2.40300000 GHz SWT 100 ms Unit dBm
0 0
B B

Transmit
-10 -10

-20 -20
1

Spectra
-30 1 -30
1MA 1MA

-40 -40

Bad
-50 -50

-60

-70
-60

-70
Good
-80 -80

-90 -90

-100 -100
Center 2.403 GHz 500 kHz/ Span 5 MHz Center 2.403 GHz 500 kHz/ Span 5 MHz

Date: 3.SEP.2001 14:50:08 Date: 3.SEP.2001 14:50:50

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Parasitic coupling related to TX:
TX Spectrum

Fundamental
Continuous “1” transmission
???
3rd Harmonic
Image Unknown spur at LO + 3BB

LO

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TX Spectrum

Fundamental
a
A fo+δf
fo+∆f
Spur fo A
a

fo fo+∆f Freq.

amplitude(δf) = ∆f * a/A

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TX Eye diagram

100 kHz

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PLL Pulling by Transmitter (1)

VDD

/2 PD

/32/33

PA DAC

DAC

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PLL pulling by Transmitter (2)

LNA
ADC

ADC

Isolation /2 PD

< 30 dB !!!
/32/33

PA PPA DAC

DAC

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TX intermodulation due to LNA
nonlinear input impedance
LNA
ADC

ADC

/2 PD

/32/33

PA PPA DAC

DAC

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Solution

LNA
ADC

ADC

/2 PD
TX-ENABLE
/32/33

PA PPA DAC

DAC

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Conclusions
▼ Parasitic crosstalk is a risk when large and small
signals are present on the same circuit

▼ RF circuits are vulnerable due to the presence of


extremely small signals and extremely sensitive
nodes

▼ Very little software support to predict the


problems

▼ Root cause finding is cumbersome because in-


circuit measurements are difficult
FO 22 Alcatel Microelectronics