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MIT researchers improve cognitive radio

17 May 2013

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Switching the channel to its nonconductive state also turns the resonator off, so the researchers' new design requires no additional switch in the path of the incoming signal, improving signal quality.

Finally, the new resonator uses only materials already found in the gallium arsenide transistors common in wireless devices, so mass-producing it should require no major modifications of existing manufacturing processes.

Commercial adoption of cognitive radio has been slow for a number of reasons. "Part of it is being able to get the frequency-agile components and do it in a cost-effective manner," says Thomas Kazior, a principal engineering fellow at Raytheon. "Plus the size constraint: Filters tend to be big to begin with, and banks of tunable filters just make things even bigger."

The MIT researchers' work could help with both problems, Kazior says. "We're talking about making filters that are directly integrated onto, say, a receiver chip, because the little resonator devices are literally the size of a transistor," he says. "These are all on a tiny scale."

"They can help with the cost problem because these resonator-type structures almost come for free," Kazior adds. "Building them is part of the semiconductor fabrication process, using pretty much the existing fabrication steps that you're using to build the transistor and the rest of the circuits. You just may need to add one, or two at the most, additional steps out of 100 or more steps."


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