100 MHz to 40 GHz power detector replaces Schottkys

September 29, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
With 1 dB accuracy & 35 dB dynamic range (±1 dB), LTC5596 is a high frequency, wideband and high dynamic range RMS power detector that provides accurate, true power measurement of RF and microwave signals independent of modulation and waveforms.

The LTC5596 responds in a log-linear 29 mV/dB scale to signal levels from –37 dBm to –2 dBm, at accuracy better than ±1 dB error over the full operating temperature range and RF frequency range, from 200 MHz to 30 GHz. In addition, the device’s response has ±1 dB flatness within this frequency range. A wider frequency range can be used, from 100 MHz to 40 GHz, with slightly reduced accuracy at the frequency extremes. Its RF input is internally 50Ω matched from 100 MHz to 40 GHz, making the device very easy to use at any band within its useful frequency range.


Modern 4G and 5G broadband communications systems employ high order, multi-tone OFDM modulation to attain higher desired data rates. Traditionally, microwave Schottky diodes are used as the detector element. They face serious shortcomings when rectifying the RF or microwave signals while measuring only the peak of the waveform, which grossly misrepresents the real power of the signal. In contrast, RMS detectors perform an analogue root-mean-square computation of the waveform, then average the result to derive a true power representation of the input signal, regardless of its modulation, number of carriers and varying amplitudes. This capability to measure the true power is critical for equipment manufacturers to set the proper transmit power, ensuring the maximum transmission distance and thus improves TX range while remaining compliant with regulatory power limits.


The LTC5596’s wide bandwidth allows the detector to work seamlessly across multiple frequency bands using a common design with minimum calibration. For example, the LTC5596 works equally well in a sub-10 GHz backhaul microwave link as with a 28 GHz version. A single design with no recalibration has the potential to provide significant cost savings to equipment manufacturers. The LTC5596’s wide frequency range and improved sensitivity enables use in a wide variety of applications such as radar systems, avionics, wireless infrastructure base stations, satellite communications and test