Prof. Dr. Dr. Robert Weigel

Institute for Electronics Engineering

The Institute for Electronics Engineering (www.lte.tf.fau.eu) is engaged with design of microelectronic, monolithically or hybrid integrated circuits, components and systems for both wireless and wired communication and sensing. Our research encompasses both the design and experimental characterization in the frequency range from DC to 400 GHz and the development of signal processing and deep learning algorithms.

The research work is embedded into cooperation projects funded by the EU and German and Bavarian ministries and research associations as well as directly funded by DFG or industry. All of our research is hardware-oriented. We are researching in the fields of mobile communication hand-sets and base stations, radar, local positioning, scanning and tracking systems, various sensor technologies, integrated RF/mixed.signal circuits, electronic hetero-integration and packaging for industrial, scientific and medical applications.

Current projects

  • Quantum Measurement and Control for the enablement of quantum computing and quantum sensing

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 1. January 2023 - 31. December 2025
    Funding source: Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst (StMWK) (seit 2018)
  • Verbundprojekt: Komonenten und RU Charakterisierung - 6G-TERAKOM-

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: Verbundprojekt: Komonenten und RU Charakterisierung - 6G-TERAKOM-
    Term: 15. October 2022 - 14. October 2025
    Funding source: BMBF / Verbundprojekt
  • Industrialisierbare Schlüsseltechnologien für energieeffiziente Tbit-Transceiver in 6G Mobilfunksystemen

    (Third Party Funds Group – Overall project)

    Term: 1. October 2022 - 31. March 2026
    Funding source: BMBF / Verbundprojekt

    MOTIVATION

     

    Sixth-generationmobile communications (6G) will enable entirely new application scenarios inindustry, medical technology and everyday life. This will be accompanied by newand higher requirements for latency, the transmittable data rate, spatialresolution, as well as data processing and energy management of thecommunication systems, which cannot be met at present. A promisingtechnological solution is offered by the development of new radio frequenciesup to the terahertz (THz) range. This can enable extremely high data rates andhigh-resolution sensing. For the realization of 6G, it is therefore importantto develop energy-efficient THz receivers and transmitters with controllabledirectional characteristics, which have high signal quality and bandwidth.Among other things, optoelectronic technologies open up promising approaches tosolutions here.

     

    OBJECTIVES AND APPROACH

     

    In the project"Industrializable key technologies for energy-efficient Tbit transceiversin 6G mobile radio systems - ESSENCE-6GM", solutions are being researchedto realize transmit and receive modules for the frequency range just belowterahertz radiation (sub-THz), which will be a critical component of future 6Gsystems. Economic efficiency and environmental compatibility are the toppriorities for the technical implementation: the solutions must becost-effective to implement in future industrial series productions andsignificantly more energy-efficient in operation compared to today's solutions.The project specifically addresses the critical weak points of today'stransmitter and receiver systems: By introducing new concepts in analog anddigital conversion, circuitry and module integration, transmitter and receiverunits for sub-THz systems can be made more energy efficient and highperformance. At the end of the project, it is planned to demonstrate amulti-antenna system capable of transmitting data rates of up to one terabitper second beyond 10 meters in selected usage scenarios.

     

    INNOVATIONS ANDPERSPECTIVES

    The Essence-6GMproject is developing components that enable high-performance transmission inthe sub-THz range with high energy efficiency. Overall, the project is helpingto ensure that Germany plays a leading role in shaping 6G standards and thatthe share of key components for 6G systems manufactured in Europe is increased.This is an essential contribution to strengthening the technologicalsovereignty of Germany and Europe.

  • Flexible Elektronisch-Photonisch Integrierte Sensor Plattform II [EPIC-Sense II]

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: Electronic-Photonic Integrated Systems for Ultrafast Signal Processing
    Term: since 1. September 2022
    Funding source: DFG / Schwerpunktprogramm (SPP)
    This proposal aims to explore a scalable, two-stage electronic-photonic MIMO radar system in the millimeter-wave range. In phase I of SPP 2111, the coherent optical distribution of the local oscillator signal was already addressed as well as the broadband integration of an electronic-photonic FMCW radar front-end. The vision for Phase II of SPP 2111 is the extension of a monolithically integrated electronic-photonic FMCW radar system by a new frequency-division multiplexing approach, which is realized by a new additional optical data-bus transmitting a high data rate coding scheme. With the help of this additional coding, a large amount of coherent 2x2 radar modules can be differentiated, while concentrating the computationally intensive coding in a central node. Especially for the electro-optical interfaces, intensive research into new technologies of optical modulation methods and components is necessary in order to meet the challenging bandwidth requirements.
  • Intelligentes robustes 320 GHz Radar-Edge-Sensornetzwerk

    (Third Party Funds Group – Overall project)

    Term: since 1. July 2022
    Funding source: BMBF / Verbundprojekt

    MOTIVATION

    The increasing number of networked devices and sensors, the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables diverse and new applications. However, it also ensures a rapidly growing amount of data. Processing data at its point of origin (edge computing) helps to deal with it efficiently. Edge computing strengthens the functionality, sustainability, trustworthiness and cost-effectiveness of electronic applications through the use of artificial intelligence and networking. The goal of the OCTOPUS projects is to provide application-specific highly innovative electronics to unlock these benefits.

    OBJECTIVES AND APPROACH

    The goal of the project is to develop radar sensors that can act as artificial sensory organs. The measurement frequency of 320 GHz enables high resolution. It is achieved by a new 90 nm BiCMOS semiconductor fabrication process. Basic circuitry, antenna concepts, and a 160 GHz communication interface for the radar modules are being explored. Attached to objects in large numbers and networked with each other, the sensors form a protective shell that can perceive its environment with the help of intelligent algorithms. The sensor data is distributed and processed in an energy-efficient manner both in the radar modules and in a central computing system. Data compression methods are also being developed for efficient data exchange. The functionality is being tested using automotive scenarios.

    INNOVATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES

    The protective shell represents a "radar skin" as an artificial sensory organ and holds high potential for future autonomously acting systems such as unmanned vehicles, drones, industrial or household robots. This will allow them to move around in the human environment and interact safely with humans as well as with other autonomous systems.

  • MQV Superconducting Qubits Quantum Computer Demonstrators

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 1. January 2022 - 31. December 2026
    Funding source: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

    Motivation

    Today, quantum computers are considered to be the computing machines of the future. They use so-called qubits instead of the conventional bits of classical computer technology. The special properties of these qubits allow the quantum computer to assume all states that can be represented with the qubits simultaneously, while conventional computers can only work with one of the combinations that can be represented by the available bits per computing step. Quantum computers can thus be used to solve tasks that conventional computers fail at. Processes at the molecular level can be simulated so that, for example, the mode of action of new active ingredients can be predicted for the pharmaceutical industry. Likewise, quantum computers can find ways to develop highly efficient battery storage or solve complex problems in traffic management.

    Objectives and approach

    The present collaborative project aims to build the demonstrator of a quantum computer based on superconducting circuits, as well as the peripherals necessary to interface the quantum computer to conventional computer systems. The work includes research into microwave circuits to control the qubits, research into integration methods for superconducting circuits, and extends to the development of customized compilers and runtime environments for the quantum computer. The associated quantum processor is expected to be able to compute with up to 100 qubits, and would thus be capable of representing ten to the power of thirty states simultaneously (which is about ten billion times the estimated number of stars in the universe).

    Innovation and perspectives

    The goal of the work is, among other things, to ensure reliable operation of such a quantum computer and, on the other hand, to create the periphery to make the computing power of this computer available to a broad group of users via cloud computing.

  • Terahertz Digital Chess-Board-Modulated Spread-Spectrum System for Radar and Communication Comprising 200 GHz Bandwidth

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: INtegrated TERahErtz sySTems Enabling Novel Functionality (INTEREST)
    Term: since 1. January 2022
    Funding source: DFG / Schwerpunktprogramm (SPP)
    TIEMPO proposes the realization of an I/Q transceiver chipset for spread-spectrum digital noise radar operating in the frequency range from 220 GHz to 420 GHz. This corresponds to a record bandwidth of 200 GHz. In this project we innovate on the idea of the frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) comb radar, by proposing a concept that can be viewed as a digital radar counterpart to a frequency comb radar. To achieve the extremely wide bandwidth we propose a novel system architecture implementing a “chess-board spectrum division”. Thanks to an elegant system level solution, a single oscillator at a fixed frequency is sufficient to generate five local oscillator (LO) carrier frequencies to cover the entire bandwidth. Furthermore, due to the high-speed I/Q mixed-signal components in combination with the “chess-board” concept, we reduce the number of required transmit/receive channels by two. This architecture can also be used for communication systems, as the digital sequence is generated externally.This extremely wide bandwidth imposes difficult challenges at the circuit design level, which is the main focus of this proposal: (1) I/Q data converters with 8-bit resolution, 20 GHz bandwidth, and 40 Gbps data-rate; (2) I/Q transmitter and receiver operating above 400 GHz; (3) LO signal generation to cover the entire bandwidth; (4) on-chip antennas with 200 GHz bandwidth and high efficiency. These operation frequencies are very close or above fmax of the technology intended for experimental validation, which is the 22 nm FD-SOI (Fully-Depleted Silicon-On-Insulator) CMOS process of Globalfoundries. This requires novel circuit and system level approaches to circumvent technology limitations. To our knowledge, this is the first digital spread-spectrum radar transceiver concept proposed in this frequency range, and the first operating over a bandwidth of 200 GHz.
  • Erforschung und Evaluation von organischen Laminaten für Verbindungskonzepte in Multi-Chip-Modulen

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 1. January 2022 - 31. December 2024
    Funding source: Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft, Landesentwicklung und Energie (StMWi) (seit 2018)
    Innovative, smart electronic systems usually only become intelligent, i.e. smart, through networking and the use of AI. On the one hand, this entails the need for a much higher-performance connection of the components within the system, and on the other hand for high-performance networking of a large number of such systems. While the connection of the computing unit (DSP, FPGA or similar) to its periphery is crucial for the first aspect, a very high-performance connection structure between the computing unit and the interface to the transport network is particularly necessary for high-rate networking. Here, the interface often implements the transition from the electrical domain to optical transmission. In order to make the required data rates between the computing unit and the interface physically possible, new construction and connection technologies are required, together with new efficient connection structures. In particular, the enormous analog bandwidth of 110GHz required for this calls for new innovative approaches here.
    Modern manufacturing technologies such as organic multi-chip modules (MCM) allow the necessary high degree of integration of a wide variety of components on a common system level. For many application areas, such as mobile communications and optical data communications, the connection of digital signal processors (DSPs) and memory blocks or interface components on a common carrier material (interposer) represents a decisive advantage. This is being investigated as part of the project.
  • Munich Quantum Valley

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 1. October 2021 - 30. September 2026
    Funding source: Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst (StMWK) (seit 2018)

    Quantum information processing (QIP), and generally the useof quantum technologies (QT) for communication, sensing, metrology andcomputational purposes, has become a key technology during the last decade forthe advancement of science and technology. The capability to prepare andmanipulate quantum states and to generate superpositions and entanglement ondemand has led to the development of measurement and computational procedures,which promise to perform well beyond classical tools. During the last twodecades, the physics of quantum information (QI) has been developed inlaboratories and routes to quantum devices with unsurpassed features have beendemonstrated [ARU19]. In particular, it has been shown that quantum computing(QC) promises unprecedented computational power for the solution of some hardproblems, especially when quantum features are involved, as for example, inchemical calculations and for quantum simulations of many-body problems as arefrequently encountered in material sciences. Moreover, quantum proceduresenhance optimization routines and can be used for the efficient solution ofsome hard mathematical problems, such as factoring.

    During the last decade,laboratory realizations of quantum computers have demonstrated their unique computationalcapabilities and spawned the efforts to make such devices available for a wideruse in industrial applications. IBM has made quantum computers available viacloud access and attracted a huge number of users and customers who want to getthemselves acquainted with the new technology. Google has demonstrated whatthey coined “quantum supremacy”, i.e., it shows a large speedup compared withclassical computational power. While the hitherto demonstrated algorithm(random circuits) is useless for practical purposes, it clearly demonstratedthe quantum advantage that can be achieved. Such a computational potential ledto the establishment of hundreds of startups, both hardware and softwareoriented, in search of realizing scalable quantum devices and algorithms. Whilemuch of the foundations and many demonstrated quantum features were obtained inEurope, most of these newly founded companies were established in the US,Canada, in Australia, some in the UK, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe,but very few in Germany. Realizing the potential advantages of QC and thegeneral-purpose use of QT and pertaining devices, several initiatives arecurrently forming to establish QC and QT in Germany and, especially, inBavaria. Expertise in QC and QT will enable advanced technologies and ensurethe leading role of the German and the Bavarian industry for decades to come.

    MQV – the Munich Quantum Valley initiative intends to combine the profoundquantum knowledge of the research institutes and universities in Bavaria withexpert technologies of companies and industry to develop and provide QCtechnology, and more generally, expertise in QT. New startup companies areexpected to be established in the course of the proposed work, enhancing thetechnology environment and making Bavaria increasingly attractive for researchand development. Moreover, the initiative aims at educating a new generation ofengineers with a quantum technology background and quantum physicists withsolid engineering expertise to establish the basis for new quantum applicationsand quantum devices as a resource for shaping the future.

  • 6G for Society and Sustainability

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: 6G Platform Germany
    Term: 1. August 2021 - 31. July 2025
    Funding source: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
    URL: https://www.open6ghub.de/

    The Open6GHub will contribute to the development of an overall 6G architecture, but also end-to-end solutions in the following, but not limited to, areas: advanced network topologies with highly agile organic networking, security and resilience, THz and photonic transmission methods, sensor functionalities in the network and their intelligent use, as well as processing and application-specific radio protocols.

    Research at FAU is conducted at the chairs of  Prof. Franchi (ESCS), Prof. Weigel (LTE) and Prof. Vossiek (LHFT). At LTE research is focused on Joint-Communications-and-Sensing-Technologies and their application in resilient 6G campus networks, in close collaboration with ESCS and LHFT. Furthermore LTE designs integrated 140 GHz Device-to-Device communication chips.

    The focus of ESCS is on JCAS, adaptive RAN architectures, protocol design, and waveform design for 6G. Additionally, ESCS explores topics of resilience-by-design and security-by-design.

  • Highly integrated localizable EMG beacon

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: Empathokinästhetische Sensorik - Sensortechniken und Datenanalyseverfahren zur empathokinästhetischen Modellbildung und Zustandsbestimmung (EmpkinS)
    Term: 1. January 2021 - 31. December 2025
    Funding source: DFG / Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB)
    URL: https://www.empkins.de/

    In this project, localizable electromyography (EMG) radio transponders are to be designed and realized in order to be able to acquire surface EMG data synchronously with highly accurate radio localization in real time for the first time. For this purpose, a 61-GHz transceiver in CMOS technology will be designed, which emits the phase-coherent signal required for the holographic radiolocation method. At the same time, the transceiver must be designed to be extremely energy-efficient. In a further step, the transceiver is to be integrated into an EMG sensor platform, which is to be evaluated in test series on subjects, e.g. on the face or legs, for the analysis of facial expressions or gait.

Recent publications

2024

2023

2022

2021

2020

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