A Ku -Band CMOS FMCW Radar Transceiver for Snowpack Remote Sensing

Yanghyo Kim*, Theodore J. Reck, Maria Alonso-Delpino, Thomas H. Painter, Hans Peter Marshall, Edward H. Bair, Jeff Dozier, Goutam Chattopadhyay, Kuo Nan Liou, Mau Chung Frank Chang, Adrian Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a Ku -band (14-16 GHz) CMOS frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) radar transceiver developed to measure dry-snow depth for water management purposes and to aid in retrieval of snow water equivalent. An on-chip direct digital frequency synthesizer and digital-to-analog converter digitally generates a chirping waveform which then drives a ring oscillator-based Ku -Band phase-locked loop to provide the final Ku -band FMCW signal. Employing a ring oscillator as opposed to a tuned inductor-based oscillator (LC-VCO) allows the radar to achieve wide chirp bandwidth resulting in a higher axial resolution (7.5 cm), which is needed to accurately quantify the snowpack profile. The demonstrated radar chip is fabricated in a 65-nm CMOS process. The chip consumes 252.4 mW of power under 1.1-V supply, making its payload requirements suitable for observations from a small unmanned aerial vehicle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2480-2494
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • CMOS
  • frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW)
  • phase-locked loop (PLL)
  • range correlation
  • ring oscillator
  • snow depth measurement


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