Sub-terahertz technology aims to accelerate semiconductor circuit analysis

May 22, 2015 // By Paul Buckley
Advantest Corporation has developed a technology utilizing short-pulse terahertz waves for analysis of electrical circuits.

The technology has two major applications: Analysis of the transmission characteristics (S parameters) of devices using the sub-terahertz band (100GHz~1THz), and characterization and location of failures in chip circuits (TDT/TDR).

The Advantest technology solution claims to overcome the technical obstacles and prohibitive cost of existing technologies, and will contribute to the development and wider adoption of these leading-edge devices.

The popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices has driven increases in wireless communications traffic, which now threatens to overwhelm the capacity of currently assigned frequencies. Worldwide R&D efforts are focusing on the sub-terahertz band, a higher frequency range which has not been used for wireless communications to date.

In high-frequency device development, it is crucial to evaluate the frequency characteristics of the overall system, including active device gain and input and output impedance, as well as the board and connectors. Part of the process is measurement of the reflection and transmission characteristics of the amplitude and phase of signals emitted, known as S-parameters or scattering parameters. However, existing network analyzers can only measure frequency ranges up to 100 GHz wide at one time, so when the signal characteristics of broader ranges must be evaluated, engineers have to repeatedly change the configuration of their equipment and measure again. This , causes extra work, longer measurement times, and discontinuities in measured data. Measurement costs also rise proportionately to these drawbacks.