Article | July 1, 2024

How To Select Power Amplifiers For High-Frequency Millimeter Wave Applications

Source: dB Control

By Mike Lee, dB Control

dB Control - antenna_1525557

For systems designers, selecting power amplifiers that can operate in the Ka-band, Q-band and other high-frequency bands is far more challenging than choosing amplifiers for lower frequency applications. Decisions and compromises that affect size, weight, and power, as well as costs (SWaP-C), become more impactful.

The complexity of designing systems for satcom, radar, electronic warfare (EW), electronic attack (EA) and electronic counter measures (ECM) is also increasing. For example, some of the most significant threats are now from missile seekers operating in millimeter wave (mmW) frequencies. These air-to-air and anti-ship missiles, as well as anti-tank guided missiles, use mmW seeker modes during their terminal guidance phase. This drives new requirements for mmW jamming performance in airborne, naval and ground vehicle systems.

This article examines some of the challenges inherent in finding reliable power amplifiers that work in high frequencies such as Ka-band (continuous wave and pulsed) and Q-band. It also details how SWaP-C and lead time challenges can be overcome, dispels a few misconceptions about operating in these frequency bands, and addresses systems designers’ diverse specification needs.

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