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Researchers develop low-cost auto radar chip

Posted: 30 Jan 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:auto-radar IC  CMOS technology  low-noise amplifier 

The University of Florida and the Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) have developed an automotive radar IC, based on CMOS technology.

Current radar chips are made of costly materials, such as galium arsenide (GaAs) and indium phosphide (InP). As a result, electronics for automotive radars cost hundreds of dollars to manufacture, according to researchers.

The new silicon-based radar chip could cost just Rs.394.78 ($10) to produce, according to the university and SRC. In addition to automobile parts suppliers and several car manufacturers, interested chip makers include IBM, Texas Instruments, and Freescale.

Researchers from the university and SRC claim to have demonstrated the first CMOS low-noise amplifier and 50GHz sine wave generator. The repetitive electronic signal, or sine wave, generator uses a phase-locked loop to stabilise the oscillation frequency and can be fabricated in a 130nm CMOS process.

The market for the radar technology is expected to quickly grow to Rs.7,895.68 crore ($2 billion) by 2010. The need for an affordable radar chip is high. A World Health Organisation report stated that 12 lakh lives are lost, and another 5 crore injured annually, due to roadway crashes.

"The chip industry's manufacturers will be able to drive the cost down on a well-established CMOS platform," said Professor Ken O, lead researcher at the University of Florida, in a statement. "The planned radar chip will be affordable for every car and provide the safety features that today are available to only a small fraction of drivers. Our dream is that it will be available for every person who can afford an automobile."

"This significantly increases the market space for chips," said David Yeh, director of integrated circuit and system sciences at SRC-GRC and an assignee from Texas Instruments to SRC. "The ramifications of saving lives for the cost of only a few dollars each is cause for a whole new level of excitement. This can raise the standard of living globally."

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times




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