Ever since the introduction of the first short-range radar (SRR) system in the 2005 Mercedes S class model, interest in the automotive radar applications at the unlicensed 24 GHz (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical) band has been gathering a great deal of momentum with an increasing number of applications being envisaged. The Universal Medium Range Radar (UMRR) is one such example, which operates in the 24 GHz band, and is generally utilized for advanced automotive driver assistance applications such as high precision parking aid, blind spot detection and high sensitivity pre-crash detection. In addition, UMRR can be employed as a support for cut-in, stop and go situations in the high range Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems. A suitable low-cost solution for such automotive radars is the System-on-Package (SoP) platform that can remove the barrier against a speedy introduction of such systems into the lower class, high-volume car market.
At the sensors lab, Prof. K.N. Salama and Prof. A. Shamim led a team of KAUST masters students Farhan Abdul Ghaffar and Muhammad Umair Khalid to develop an aperture-coupled patch antenna array SoP realized in a mixed LTCC medium of the low and high dielectric. For the first time, a 24-GHz mixed LTCC SoP comprising an array of fractal antennas was integrated with a grooved Fresnel lens. The mixed tape system allows the antenna to be realized in a relatively lower dielectric constant LTCC tape system, and the lens to be realized in a high dielectric constant tape for size reduction. The lens not only enhances the array gain but also adds to the robustness of the design by providing protection against harsh conditions such as those encountered in automotive radars. The miniaturized module can easily fit into car bumpers or side mirrors, etc., for automotive radar applications such as blind-spot detection.
The design's compactness, robustness, transmission power and resultant communication range are highly suitable for Universal Medium Range Radar (UMRR) applications. The work was granted a US patent number: 8860607on October 14th, 2014.
This work is described in detail in two publications that were highly praised by the independent reviewers with comments such as " can have a lot of impact with the UMRR technology" and "I could not really find any weaknesses". For more detail see:
1. F. A. Ghaffar, M. U. Khalid, K. N. Salama, A. Shamim, "24 GHz LTCC Fractal Antenna Array SoP with Integrated Fresnel Lens", IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letter, vol. 10, no. 10, pp. 705- 708, July 2011.
2. F. A. Ghaffar, M. U. Khalid, A. Shamim and K. N. Salama, "Gain-Enhanced LTCC System-on-Package for Automotive UMRR Applications," 53rd IEEE International Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems (MWSCAS), pp.934-937, August 2010, Seattle, USA