Delivering an efficient wireless technology

It was his keen interest in philosophy that inspired Darshak Bhatt, a Research Scholar at the IITB-Monash Research Academy, to pursue electronics engineering. "The electron is a fascinating particle," he chuckles. "If the electron is the mind, the atom is the soul, for the behaviour of the electron with an external electric and magnetic field is exactly like the behaviour of the mind."

Bhatt specialises in nanoelectronics and his work attempts to address the demand for high-speed, wide area, wireless mobility in the field of communication.

In a developing country like India, it is challenging to provide a wired network to every home in every part of country. This is where wireless technology can provide solutions.

Picture Credit: Avaragado, by inmaginer website

The grammar and syntax of wireless communication changed forever in 1897 when G. Marconi first demonstrated radio's ability to provide contact with ships sailing through the English Channel. Today, with the digital revolution and wireless broadband, things are about to change again. In the digital age, voice and video are just data applications, and with wireless broadband solutions, even high definition video will be able to go wireless.

A good example of new wireless technology is WiFi. It magically combines speed, ease of use, simplicity, cost effectiveness and embedded connectivity—all of which have driven the wide deployment of hotspots. WiFi's biggest drawback, though, is its inability to provide cost-efficient, pervasive coverage over large nation-wide geographies.

The good news is that new technologies are available to address the demand for high-speed, wide area, wireless mobility. In particular, mesh WiFi and WiMAX technologies, which have emerged to meet requirements needed to deliver a good wireless data experience. These requirements include high speed, low infrastructure and licensing costs, wide device support, and ease of use. And this is where Bhatt—researching on a project titled, 'Study and design of integrated mixer and local oscillator topologies for WiFi and WiMAX systems with a high immunity to parasitic signal feedthrough' under the guidance of Dr Jayanta Mukherjee and Dr Jean-Michel Redouté—is attempting to make a difference.

Graduate research scholars of IITB-Monash Research Academy like Bhatt study for a dually-badged PhD from both IIT Bombay and Monash University, spending time at both institutions to enrich their research experience. IITB-Monash Research Academy is a collaboration between India and Australia that endeavours to strengthen scientific relationships between the two countries.

"The IITB-Monash Research Academy represents an extremely important collaboration between Australia and India. Established in 2008, the 'Academy' now is a strong presence in the context of India-Australia scientific collaborations," says Prof Murali Sastry, CEO, IITB-Monash Research Academy.

Picture Credit: Darshak Bhatt

Bhatt aims to to design and develop mixer voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) combinations for WiFi and WiMAX systems which present an inherent high degree of immunity against Local Oscillator (LO) and Radio Frequency (RF) feedthrough.

Up to now, Moore's law has been observed in the evaluation of nanoelectronics. Stated simply, it claims that silicon transistors undergo a continual process of scaling downward. To give an example, the size of transistors has gone down from 5um to a minuscule 22nm—and the recent Intel core i7 has ~700million transistors!

Bhatt's project deals with nano transistors of around 180nm and 65nm which require highly accurate simulators like Cadence and Advanced Design System (ADS) to reduce cost and time, and improve accuracy in the first design. Since there is a demand for compact high speed radio frequency receivers, he has to design mixers and oscillators to make these technologies work with low power and high accuracy. Due to the dependence on simulators, the fabrication and testing challenges for nano devices require repetitive and accurate analysis at each step. Through his research, Bhatt hopes to provide different topologies of mixer for the RF front-end which can lead to linearity, low power consumption and higher immunity to the incoming signal in Wifi and WiMax Technology. The aim is to provide efficient coverage over large areas.

So the next time you're able to log in to a Wifi network on a desert trek in the Sahara or on a jungle safari deep inside the Kanha forests, you know whom to thank.

Research scholar: Darshak Bhatt, IITB-Monash Research Academy

Project title: Study and design of integrated mixer and local oscillator topologies for WiFi and WiMAX systems with a high immunity to parasitic signal feedthrough

Supervisors: Dr Jayanta Mukherjee and Dr Jean-Michel Redouté

Contact details: darshak.bhatt@gmail.com

Contact research@iitbmonash.org for more information on this, and other projects.

The above story was written by Mr Krishna Warrier based on inputs from the research student and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.