System and Method for Unidirectional Routing of Signals

University of Colorado Boulder Background
Modern radar and communications manufacturers are under pressure to reduce weight and lower costs. Integrated microwave assemblies now offer smaller platforms to accomplish functions that used to necessitate large assembly and subassembly sizes. Phased array radar antennas, particularly actively scanning phased array radar, can require hundreds to thousands of transmit/receive (T/R) modules to meet mission performance criteria. These T/R modules often share one antenna between transmit/received signals, accomplished using either a duplexer or circulator. Duplexers switch between the receive path and the transmit path during the transmitted pulse and back to the receive path during the echo pulse. Circulators spatially separate the received signal path from the transmitted signal path, allowing the antenna to continuously both transmit and receive information. This continuous operation allows an antenna with a circulator to have double the bandwidth of one with a duplexer, which must split time between transmitting and receiving. However, circulators require bulky permanent magnets and are therefore difficult to miniaturize and integrate on-chip.
Technology Overview
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have engineered a broadband circulator that can be integrated on-chip. The circulator works based upon the non commutation of frequency conversion and delay, and requires no permanent magnets or resonant components. With this methodology, two types of gyrators — universal building blocks for linear, nonreciprocal circuits — are constructed. Both gyrator devices operate over an octave bandwidth, and can be used to build other broadband nonreciprocal circuits. Broadband performance is demonstrated explicitly by constructing a nonmagnetic microwave circulator with over 15 dB of reverse isolation across the 5–9 GHz band. A modified version of this design, also involving frequency-conversion/switching and delay, can be engineered to have very low loss. This approach provides a general prescription for generating broadband nonreciprocity applicable in any platform that contains frequency-converting elements.
Stage of Development
Proof of concept.
Benefits

Reduction in size of circulator components
Reduction in cost of circulator components
Reduction in overall cost and size of a phased array

Applications

Telecommunication networks and infrastructure
Internet of things
Satellite infrastructure
Nanophotonics
Quantum information processing
Platforms containing frequency converting elements

Opportunity
Available for exclusive or nonexclusive licensing.
# CU4344B

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