High/Low Temperature Contactless RF Probes

High/Low Temperature Contactless RF Probes (LEW-TOPS-58)
For characterizing microwave integrated circuits (MICs) and devices
Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have designed, constructed, and demonstrated several novel contactless radio frequency (RF) probing systems for characterizing microwave integrated circuit (MIC) devices at extreme hot or cold temperatures over the frequency range from a few gigahertz (GHz) to thousands of gigahertz or terahertz (THz). High temperature contactless RF probing systems are necessary for advancing wireless sensor technology for applications in extreme terrestrial and aerospace environments, such as oil wells, aircraft engines, and in robotic landers for exploring the surface of a planet such as Venus. Low temperature contactless RF probing systems are necessary for characterizing sensors operating at liquid nitrogen or helium temperatures and based on superconducting materials. The Glenn innovation is a reliable, easily constructed, less expensive contactless RF probe for characterizing microwave integrated circuits and devices embedded in sensors fabricated on conformal or non-planar substrates, at elevated or cryogenic temperatures.

The Technology
The design and operation of NASA Glenn's contactless RF probing systems relies on strong electromagnetic coupling that takes place between two different microwave transmission lines oriented in close proximity, but not in contact with each other to ensure high thermal isolation. In addition, the two transmission lines could be either similar or dissimilar and realized on substrates with different dielectric constants. Further, the substrates could be planar or non-planar and conformal to the surface of a sensor. In the case of dissimilar transmission lines, one of the transmission lines could be a printed circuit media while the other could be a metal waveguide or a dielectric waveguide. Glenn researchers have reported the first ever contactless RF probing of microwave circuits up to 200°C.
Mars Rover Glenn's contactless RF probes are ideal for extreme environments
  • Reliable: Characterizes MICs and devices at elevated temperatures without damaging either the device under test or the probes
  • Easily constructed: Fabricated using well established, low-cost, step-and-repeat photolithography techniques

  • Oil wells
  • Aircraft engines
  • Robotic landers
Technology Details

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