Below is an outline of all of
our material on phase shifters. This collection of material is easily
the best free phase shifter resource on the planet. And it keeps
On this page we have:
Phase shifter background
Digital versus analog phase shifters
Active versus passive phase shifters - new for June 2012!
MEMS phase shifters
Other pages include:
Types of phase shifters
line (delay line) phase shifters
filter phase shifters
for high pass/low pass phase shifter calculations
degree hybrid phase shifters (such as rat-races)
hybrid phase shifters
reflection bits using PIN diodes
Reflection phase shifters
using circulators (coming soon)
delay units (TDUs) new for January 2011!
phase shifter simulations in Agilent's ADS (new for January
Multi-state phase shifter simulations part II (new for January 2012!)
shifter data example 1
MMIC phase shifter examples
1: AMTL six bit S-band phase shifter
2: Marconi six bit C-band phase shifter
Example 3: Hittite HMC543 X-band phase shifter (new for January 2012!)
Applications of phase shifters
Residual phase noise measurement
Some phase shifter background
Phase shifters are used to change
the transmission phase angle (phase of S21) of a network. Ideal
phase shifters provide low insertion loss, and equal amplitude (or
loss) in all phase states. While the loss of a phase shifter is
often overcome using an amplifier stage, the less loss, the less
power that is needed to overcome it. Most phase shifters are reciprocal
networks, meaning that they work effectively on signals passing
in either direction. Phase shifters can be controlled electrically,
magnetically or mechanically. Most of the phase shifters described
on this web site are passive reciprocal networks; we will concentrate
mainly on those that are electrically-controlled.
While the applications of microwave
phase shifters are numerous, perhaps the most important application
is within a phased array antenna system
(a.k.a. electrically steerable array, or ESA), in which the phase
of a large number of radiating elements are controlled to force
the electro-magnetic wave to add up at a particular angle to the
array. For this very purpose, phase shifters are often embedded in TR modules. The total phase variation of a phase shifter need only be
360 degrees to control an ESA of moderate bandwidth. Networks that
stretch phase more than 360 degrees are often called time delay bits or true time delays (part of a TDU),
and are constructed similar to the switched line phase shifters
that are described below.
versus digital phase shifters
Phase shifters can be analog
or digital. Analog phase shifters provide a continuously variable
phase, perhaps controlled by a voltage. Electrically controlled
analog phase shifters can be realized with varactor
diodes that change capacitance with voltage, or nonlinear dielectrics
such as barium strontium titanate, or Ferro-electric materials such
as yttrium iron garnet. A mechanically-controlled analog phase shifter
is really just a mechanically lengthened transmission line, often
called a trombone line. Analog phase shifters are a mere side-show
and will not be covered here in depth at this time. If you are interested
in more information on any of these analog phase shifter topics,
let us know and we will try to accommodate you.
Most phase shifters are of the
digital variety, as they are more immune to noise on their voltage
control lines. Digital phase shifters provide a discrete set of
phase states that are controlled by two-state "phase bits."
The highest order bit is 180 degrees, the next highest is 90 degrees,
then 45 degrees, etc., as 360 degrees is divided into smaller and
smaller binary steps. A three bit phase shifter would have a 45
degree least significant bit (LSB), while a six bit phase shifter
would have a 5.6 degree least significant bit. Technically the latter
case would have a 5.625 degree LSB, but in the microwave world it
is best to ignore precision that you cannot obtain. If you can't
comprehend this point, you might want to consider a different career
such as accounting.
The convention followed for phase
shifters is that the shortest phase length is the reference or "off"
state, and the longest path or phase length is the "on"
state. Thus a 90 degree phase shifter actually provides minus ninety
degrees of phase shift in its "on" state.
Active versus passive phase
shifters - historical perspective
One of the first phase shifter MMIC designs used dual-gate FETs in a way that it was non-reciprocal. You can learn of it here:
Vorhaus, J. L. et al, "Monolithic Dual-Gate GaAs FET Digital Phase Shifter", IEEE transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, Vol. MTT-30, No. 7, July 1982.
With an active phase shifter, it might be possible to counteract the loss of the phase shift elements and eliminate an amplifier stage. Seems worth exploring, right?
In the 1980s the idea of an active phase shifter quickly fell beside the wayside, because a passive reciprocal phase shifter is more versatile and requires fewer SPDT switches to route the transmit and receive signals through the phase shifter.
It is funny how over the past ten years, more and more TR module architectures are using a "common leg" circuit that includes phase control. Because of this, the one advantage of a passive phase shifter no longer matters. It seems just a matter of time before someone reinvents the active phase shifter in a TR module. Maybe that has happened already, just send us a reference and we'll post it here.
An important note on active phase shifters... you must consider both the gain and the noise figure of your phase shifter when you are analyzing the performance of the next higher assembly. Vorhaus' paper did not report the noise figure of his 1982 active phase shifter.
MEMS phase shifters
Since the beginning of RF MEMS, there has been about a billion dollars spent to try to develop a phase shifter with low loss such that a PESA is enabled and the inventors make a killing. In the beginning, it seemed possible that a three-bit Ka-band phase shifter could be made with 1 dB loss. Then the dark ages of MEMS began, when reliability was uncovered to be a major problem, and hence the MEMS Tree of Woe was born and all involved took the acronym off of their business cards. More recently, promises have been reduced to maybe 2.5 dB loss for three bits at Ka-band, 2 dB at X-band. This level of loss spells "game over" for MEMS phase shifters.
We'll keep an eye on the technology, and one of these days make a page of content about it.
If you know of any phase shifter
topologies not covered on one of our phase shifter pages that should
be described here, drop us a line and we will add your knowledge
to this chapter! Want to donate a photo of a phase shifter you designed?
Send it our way and we might get your 15 minutes of fame if we decide
to put it on this page
Check out what Wikipedia
offers on phase shifters, it's slim pickings... they do link back to us, but don't consider us as a "reference". Someone ought to teach those eggheads some manners...