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Embrace Circuit Nonlinearity to get Transmitter

Linearity and Energy Efficiency

Dr. Earl McCune

IEEE MTT-S Distinguished Microwave Lecturer
Besser Assiciates

Sponsored by Mid Atlantic Microwave Sales (

Date:  Thursday, September 17, 2015

Time:  5:30 Reception, Dinner (Optional) 6:00 pm, Lecture 7:00

Place: American Center for Physics,  One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740

Directions: Map

Free parking.

All IEEE members and guests are welcome to attend. 

Cost: Lecture and reception free, optional Dinner $10

Please RSVP (Dinner only) to Roger Kaul, by September 16th


Wireless communications signals have evolved greatly over the past century, from the use of Morse Code to very complicated digital modulation schemes such as wideband CDMA (WCDMA) and 3GPP Long-term evolution (LTE). This progression challenges the design of transmitters to be simultaneously energy efficient, low distortion, and spectrally clean. The increasing peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR) characteristic of these signals is a particular problem. Because it is important to understand why this is happening this presentation begins with a discussion of the physical implications of Shannon's Capacity Limit combined with the Fourier Transform.

A 'backwards' design perspective is then presented, where we begin design from a maximally energy efficient circuit (a switch) and then make it generate the required signals instead of the conventional approach of beginning with linear circuitry and then finding ways to improve its energy efficiency. This directly leads to the design and implementation of polar-modulation to improve both the energy efficiency of the power amplifier and linearity of the transmitter. Design of intentionally compressed circuitry is very different from conventional linear amplifier techniques, and these new design techniques will be discussed.

The presentation will cover the use of both linear amplifiers and switches for the power amplifier module, and the implications of using these approaches on the power supply design, system integration, and performance measures. This presentation will bring the subjects of OFDM, Shannon's theorem, spectral efficiency, and switch-mode amplifiers together in an exposition of polar modulation transmitters that is both entertaining and informative.



Earl McCune received his BS/EECS degree from UC Berkeley, his MSEE (Radioscience) from Stanford University, and his Ph.D. from UC Davis in 1979, 1983, and 1998 respectively.  He is a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur, founding two successful start-up companies since 1986: Digital RF Solutions (1986-1991, merged with Proxim) and Tropian (1996 - 2006, acquired by Panasonic).  He is now retired from his position as a Technology Fellow of Panasonic, and is an author, instructor, and independent consultant.  He is currently an instructor for Besser Associates for both Practical Digital Wireless Signals and Frequency Synthesis Principles. He holds 58 issued US patents, and is the author of Practical Digital Wireless Signals (Cambridge 2010).

 In his nearly 40 years of experience in the wireless communications industry he has worked in areas including technology development, circuit design, along with systems architecture and integration.  This experience has been gained at NASA, Hewlett Packard, Watkins-Johnson, Cushman Electronics, Digital RF Solutions, Proxim, Tropian, and Panasonic.  The start-up Digital RF Solutions pioneered modulated direct digital synthesis (DDS) technology for very high dynamic range transmitters.  Tropian developed and implemented envelope tracking and polar modulation techniques for highly efficient, multiband and multi-mode linearized power amplifiers.

 Dr McCune has presented at ten (10) IMS/MTT workshops since 2000, and has been an invited speaker at RWS, PA Symposium, WAMICON, ISCAS, WCNC, and ISSCC.  He has served on the CICC technical program committee (TPC) since 2000, and also served on the TPC for RWS and the PA Symposium.  He is a regular reviewer for IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits, Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, and the Transactions on Circuits and Systems.  He is a Senior Member of the IEEE, and is a member of the MTT, Communications, Solid State Circuits, Vehicular Technology, Aerospace Engineering, and Circuits and Systems Societies.


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