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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Solid State Microwave

Ampleon Solid State Microwave Module
Something new, sort of: solid state microwave ovens. Monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) is Wikipedia's term for the device, which explains why I had a hard time tracking it down.

Regular microwave ovens employ magnetrons, which are large, complicated vacuum tubes, to generate the mircowave radiation they use to heat your coffee. A Magnetron requires high voltage electricity, which is provided by a big, heavy, electrical transformer, which is why the control panel end of the microwave oven is so heavy.

Now some guys have come out with an MMIC that can prodcue enough microwave energy that it could be used for cooking. Solid state microwave devices have been around for years, but they are generally very low power, like your cell phone. Yes, that's right, your ear gets warm when you hold the phone up it because of that whole watt of microwave radiation being beamed into your head. NOT. Your ear gets warm because the phone is keeping the air from circulating past your ear and carrying off the excess heat being produced by your ear, which is much greater than that one watt being produced by your cell phone.

The military has probably been using them for years, but we haven't heard anything because 1) they're secret, and 2) we can't afford to buy one anyway.

While I was looking for an explanation, I did find these little bits:
Passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radars, introduced in the 1960s, used a single microwave source and a series of delays to drive a large number of antenna elements (the array) and electronically steer the radar beam by changing the delay times slightly. The development of solid-state microwave amplifiers, JFETs and MESFETs, allowed the single klystron to be replaced by a number of separate amplifiers, each one driving a subset of the array but still producing the same amount of total power. Solid-state amplifiers can operate at a wide range of frequencies, unlike a klystron, so solid-state PESAs offered much greater frequency agility, and were much more resistant to jamming. - Frequency agility
To meet the marketplace demands on cost, size, and power consumption of monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), research continues in the development of mainstream digital bulk-CMOS processes for such purposes. The continuous scaling of feature sizes in current IC technologies has enabled microwave and mm-wave CMOS circuits to directly benefit from the resulting increased unity-gain frequencies of the scaled technology. This device scaling, along with the advanced process control available in today's technologies, has recently made it possible to reach a transition frequency (ft) of 170 GHz and a maximum oscillation frequency (fmax) of 240 GHz in a 90 nm CMOS process. - Distributed amplifier
Microwaves have a wavelength between one and ten centimeters, which means thay are actually longer and lower frequency than millimeter waves, never mind the nomenclature.

Via Bayou Renaissance Man

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