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5 GHz Negative Impedance Converters

O.O. Tade, P. Gardner and P.S. Hall
School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Birmingham, UK. B15 2TT

Keywords: Cognitive radio, Electrically small antenna, Non-Foster

matching networks,.

The need for small antenna with wide instantaneous bandwidth is vital in mobile Cognitive radio nodes / transceivers. The fundamental limit of small antennas is a problem which passive matching cannot solve. However, nonFoster matching provides a solution to this problem. In this paper, we show a negative impedance converter that provides a negative capacitor up to 1.5GHz. This is the highest frequency report to date. The negative capacitor can help increase the Q of antennas beyond what is achievable with passive matching.

NIC based matching networks include [2] which matched a six (6) inch antenna from 20MHz to 120MHz. Ref [4] matched a meta-material based antenna which provided a better than 10dB return loss between 450MHz and 500MHz with a top frequency of 500MHz. Other attempts either show either analytical or simulated results.

Figure 1: An idealized NIC

2 NIC Design 1 Introduction

Cognitive radios are currently generating a lot interest because of the promise of access to a wide range of underutilised RF spectrum. This access comes with some prerequisites, one of which is that the CR node must be able to detect a licensed user, known as Primary user (PU), within two (2) seconds of the PU becoming active. To achieve this objective, the CR nodes need to carry out spectrum sensing. Spectrum sensing can be achieved by using wide band RF front-ends which require wideband antennas [1] or a widetuning antenna. Current trends suggest that CR nodes would need to be mobile and possibly handheld hence the need for small antennas. Small antennas are usually narrow band and would require some form of external matching. Passive matching limits the bandwidth because it involves resonating the reactive part of the antenna. Complete cancellation of the reactive part of an antenna is only possible over very narrow bandwidths when using passive (Foster) elements [2]. This implies that antennas would have to be tuneable to cover wide bandwidth. Using tuneable antennas for spectrum sensing would not take advantage of the advances made in digital signal processing (DSP) where concurrent signal processing can be done at baseband [3]. To achieve wideband small antennas, there is the need for non-Foster elements. These elements have a negative reactance slope and this feature enables non-Foster elements to cancel the reactance of an antenna continuously over a wide bandwidth [2]. A means of achieving non-Foster element is through the use of Negative Impedance Converters (NIC). An NIC is an active two port network which inverts whatever impedance is connected to its other port Fig. 1. Previous attempts at making We have been able to design and build an NIC which has a top frequency of 1.5GHz, which is the highest reported so far. The NIC was fabricated using Linvills model [5]. The Linvills model consists of two transistors. The reactive element to invert is connected between the collectors of the transistor. The base of one transistor is connected to the collector of the second transistor and this forms the feedback path. The two emitters form the terminals of the NIC. The Linvills schematic is shown in Fig. 2a. It is realized as a (50 X 50) mm2 double layer structure with a common ground plane between the two layers as shown in fig. 2b. The two layered structure approach was chosen because it provides the shortest feedback path. The feedback length is critical in ensuring stability. Vias are used to connect the two layers of the structure. The substrate used in the fabrication is Taconic TLY-5 with thickness of 1.57mm, dielectric constant of 2.2 and loss tangent of 0.0009. On the top layer, fig. 2c, are the transistors, the capacitor to invert and the DC bias network. The reverse or bottom layer, fig. 2d, has the feedback path. The transistor is a SOT23 packaged NXP BFS 17 transistor biased at 5V, 20mA. The capacitor to invert is an AVX 3.9pF and it is connected between the two transistors as shown in fig. 2c. There are input and output coplanar waveguide (CPW) transmission lines between the emitter of the transistors and the 50 measurement ports. As negative capacitors are inherently unstable therefore it is necessary to add positive capacitors in between the measurement ports and the NIC. This ensures that the total capacitance seen from either of the measurement ports is always positive. 10 resistors are also added between the

GBJT3 ID=GP2 CAP ID=C1 C=1 pF PORT P=1 Z=50 Ohm GBJT3 ID=GP1 PORT P=2 Z=50 Ohm

2 C C 2 1 1 B B E 3 E 3

Common ground-plane



DC blocking Capacitor




A B Via hole Bias Lines Capacitor to invert

Via hole

Transmission Line



Fig 2: The layout of the NIC (a) Linvills NIC schematic (b) Cross -sectional view (c) Top view and (d) Reverse view

.4 -0
-0 .6


.0 -2

Swp Min 400MHz

Fig 3:

De-embedded Measured S parameter of NIC.


-4 .0 -5. 0

2 -0.


-3 .0

The structure shown in Fig. 2 has been built and measured. The measured S11and S22 results are shown in Fig.3. Fig.3 also shows the NIC performance after the effects of the transmission line, stabilizing resistors and capacitors have been de-embedded from the measured result. The plots shown in Fig. 3 below, shows non-Foster performance after deembedding. It can be seen that the locus of S11 and S22 plots rotate anticlockwise with increase in frequency between 595MHz and 1.5GHz. De-embedding entails removing the effects of all the additional elements (resistor and capacitor) and the transmission lines between the measurement ports and points A and B (Fig. 2c). A plot of the resistance and reactance seen from points A and B is shown in fig. 4. The









4.0 5.0


3 Measurement results

0. 4

measurement port and the NIC to further ensure stability by providing resistive damping. The NIC exists between points A and B (fig. 2c). Other components after these points are added to make the NIC measureable as a standalone structure. The performance of the NIC alone is found by de-embedding it from the measured S parameters of the structure.

reactance plot shows a negative slope which indicates the presence of a negative reactive element.

S(1,1) De-embedded Measured NIC

6 0.

Swp Max 1500MHz


2. 0

S(2,2) De-embedded Measured NIC

595 MHz r 0.202597 x 0.0952731 1500 MHz r 14.8499 x -3.63755

0 3.

0 4.




Im(Z(1,1)) (L) De-embedded Measured NIC Im(Z(2,2)) (L) De-embedded Measured NIC

Re(Z(1,1)) (R) De-embedded Measured NIC Re(Z(2,2)) (R) De-embedded Measured NIC





-100 400 900 Frequency (MHz)

0 1400 1500

Fig 4: Impedance Graph of de-embedded NIC

4 Conclusion
We have presented a double sided two-port NIC which shows a capability of non-Foster behaviour up to 1.5GHz, which is the highest reported. This NIC circuit can be used as a matching network or part of a broadband matching network for small antenna. There is a need for proper stability analyses as stability is a major challenge with negative elements and NICs.

[1] I. F. Akyildiz, et al., "A survey on spectrum management in cognitive radio networks," Communications Magazine, IEEE, vol. 46, pp. 4048, 2008. S. E. Sussman-Fort and R. M. Rudish, "Non-Foster Impedance Matching of Electrically-Small Antennas," Antennas and Propagation, IEEE Transactions on, vol. 57, pp. 2230-2241, 2009. H. R. Myler, et al., "A concurrent processing approach for software defined radio baseband design," in Technical, Professional and Student Development Workshop, 2005 IEEE Region 5 and IEEE Denver Section, 2005, pp. 20-24. H. Mirzaei and G. V. Eleftheriades, "A wideband metamaterial-inspired compact antenna using embedded non-Foster matching," in Antennas and Propagation (APSURSI), 2011 IEEE International Symposium on, 2011, pp. 1950-1953. J. G. Linvill, "Transistor Negative-Impedance Converters," Proceedings of the IRE, vol. 41, pp. 725-729, 1953.





Resistance (ohms)

Reactance (ohms)