July 2022

After two years of pandemic, the International Microwave Symposium for  2022 was almost back to normal, but probably fell a little bit short of the 2019 Boston attendance. Here's a recap fom our limited point of view. Let's follow the Jack Kerouac Stream of Conciousness model for the rest of this page, it's a lot easier than trying to organize our thoughts.

The first thing you notice when you visit the Denver Convention Center is the iconic Big Blue Bear, a 40 foot sculpture that is actually entitled "I see what you mean". Read about it here.

The Denver Convention Center is huge. The conference was so spread out that you had to account for a lengthy walk between the exhibits and the technical sessions if you wanted to be on time for a talk! Here's an minor complaint about the exhibit floor layout: naturally, big sponsors need big booths. But this year, three of the big booths (M/A-COM, ADI and Qorvo)  spanned adjacent rows, blocking traffic to exhibitors behind them in aisles 400 and 700. Let's go back to having the big booths stay in their lanes next year please...

The IMS welcome reception beer tasting at the Denver Performing Arts Complex in the Sculpture Park and Galleria was awesome. We wish we had kept the beer scorecard, so we could follow up on some of the best beverages after the show...

Here are Brenda (Microwaves101) and Raghav (EverythingRF) in the exhibit booth. Once again, EverythingRF sponsored the Exhibitors lounge.

This seems like quite a boast for a MEMS switch, part of the backdrop in the Menlo Microsystems exhibit booth. We wish them luck!

Here is a collection of swag from the exhibits. 

We really don't encourage bringing home a bunch of stuff that ends up in the waste stream, but this year we could not resist collecting an entire IMS nerd runner outfit, including shorts. Now let's pretend we are writing for Rolling Stone, a once-great alternative magazine that employed "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson to cover the insane 1968 Democratic Convention but now has to publish fashion crap to pay the rent, in "articles" such as "the Coolest Summer Gear".

  • Shirt, by Guerrilla RF
  • 5G sox, by PSemi
  • Shorts, by Component Distributors, Inc. (Denver Colorado)
  • Hat, by Krytar
  • Yoga Pose, by an aging Boomer

Speaking of swag, here's a couple of new pals for the Stuffies of IMS collection we started a few years back. The bear is from Cadence and features a hoodie. The Tiger was provided by Samtec. Rumor has it that there was a wolf at the Wolfspeed booth, but it was in short supply. Still waiting for a photo of that critter!

Bear and tiger

Meanwhile, downstairs in technical session TU2B-2, "Analytical Expressions for Field-based Response Sensitivity Analysis and Their Application in Microwave Design and Imaging", presented by Natalia K. Nikolova, showed a millimeterwave imager that can detect hidden objects in teddy bears.

Teddy bear imaging

The older you get the more you are attracted to special sessions dedicated to recently passed MTT-S mega-contributors.  This year there were special sessions for Vittorio Rizzoli (optimization techniques), Roberto Sorrentino (passive devices), Dick Sparks (semiconductor technology), Ferdo Ivanek (antenna systems), and Tapan Sarkar (numerical techniques). I crossed paths with two of these honorees in my career. I worked in the same department as Dick Sparks years ago at the Lazy R Ranch, and he was the first person to involve me in planning a symposium (a venue on intelligent transportation, back in the 1990s). To this day, whenever his name is brought up there is always someone snickering... "no one would name their kid that!"  Professor Rizzoli was one of the "must have" guys for the original Darpa MIMIC program in the 1980s... I recall Uncle Ray's Rest Camp courted him by sending a research director to sit next to him on the Concorde plane, so they could spend a few uninterupted hours together.  If anyone else can confirm this, please chime in!  When I pass on, I wish that the IMS symposium would hold a special session on Projects that Never Made it to Production, in my honor.

Here's our bartender pouring brews at the Microwaves101 booth on Wednesday afternoon. The beer was Titan IPA from the Great Divide Brewing Company, which scores 91 on Beer Advocate and has 7.1% alcohol. Use their beer finder app to see if it is available near you.

Delicious beverages, courtesy of Microwaves101

It took maybe an hour to drain a full keg of beer, we have a lot of thirsty friends. The Exhibition Reception followed soon after (more free drinks), then we were off to the Women in Microwaves event (also, free drinks.) Things got a little blurry after that.

Titan IPA was well received

Speaking of Women in Microwaves, we really like their new logo! If you make tshirts, we'll be the first in line to order a couple!


IMS also featured a mini-golf course setup this year, sponsored by XMA, with holes spread throughout the exhibition hall. If you played all of the holes you were entered in a drawing for one of several prizes (an iPad, Beats headphones, an Echo "Show 8" camera/display device from Amazon). We'd like to know who the winner was.


The Best Industry Paper Award went to Michael Roberg, for "A 50W CW 1–6GHz GaN MMIC Power Amplifier Module with Greater Than 30% Power Added Efficiency" (presentation We1E-5). The approach uses a pair of non-uniform distributed power amplifiers (NUDPAs) power-combined with tri-filar combiners that were fabricated as passive MMICs. The four chips were reflowed onto a 15x15mm copper-base package, which was mounted to a copper heat sink.  Power and efficiency results are shown below. Nit-picking the data, the result is "only" 42 watts at 6 GHz (after you convert 46.25 dBm to watts), but there is much more power at lower frequencies.  It does meet 30% PAE across the full band. It was nice to see a presention where the presentor had a cup of coffee in one hand. Bravo, Mike!

This GaN power amp result is going to cut into the mini-TWT business. There is surely an opportunity for some company to power-combine a few of these 50W Qorvo amplifier modules to achieve 100-150 Watts; the challege is always to minimize power combiner loss.

Now, a word on COVID-19. Mostly attendees did not wear masks, as society is ready to put the pandemic in the rear-view mirror. But Covid is still spreading... we know of at least one author that had to quarantine in a hotel during the day of his talk, and we know of four people who went home to positive tests, including one senior citizen that wore an N95 mask except when eating.  But we don't really know what percentage of people got sick at IMS, that would be interesting. Maybe the MTT-S will set up a survey and answer this question before the 2023 conference.  

We could have used a little more coffee, maybe we can do better in 2023. Who would have thought that a two-liter urn of decaf wouldn't serve a few thousand people?


See you in San Diego, at IMS 2023!

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