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Improved Wilkinson Power Divider Structures for Millimeter-Wave Applications

Communication systems, radars, electronic warfare and space applications desire integrated circuits with higher operating frequencies. Working at the millimeter-wave region increases data rates, provides a more efficient use of the spectrum and enables smaller products. Power dividers are used as building blocks for such applications to split and combine RF signals. Wilkinson power divider is one of the most commonly used topology, providing high return loss and isolation with low insertion loss. However, it occupies valuable chip area, has a limited bandwidth, requires accurate modeling and precise fabrication. In addition, the layout becomes complicated for three or more outputs and cannot be realized on a planar circuit. This work presents three techniques to address the drawbacks of the original Wilkinson divider. The first structure achieves a compact size without bandwidth degradation and provides additional physical isolation at the output. The second divider improves the bandwidth of operation and increases tolerance to sheet resistance variance, enabling robustness and higher yields. The third technique simplifies the layout of three-way dividers and allows a planar fabrication technology. The proposed structures are analyzed using even-odd mode analysis and design equations are derived. Three high performance dividers with 30 GHz center frequency are designed employing the developed methods. The circuits are realized using GaN based coplanar waveguide and microstrip monolithic microwave integrated circuit technology. Experimental results demonstrate good agreement with theory and simulations, proving that the presented improvements could be useful in future millimeter-wave RF applications.