STMicroelectronics Balun Device Boosts Performance And Occupies 90% Less Board Space In Miniature Nordic-Based Sensor, Tag, And 'Appcessory' Products
The BAL-NRF01D3 IPD balun device from STMicroelectronics converts the output of a Nordic nRF51 or nRF24 Series RF chip into the format required by an antenna. Measuring just 1.0 x 1.5 mm in size, it occupies up to 90 percent less board space compared to the use of separate passive components, and targets miniaturized coin-sized applications such sports watches and accessories, smartphone proximity and alert tags, and smart inventory RF tracking ID tags.
Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA recently announces that STMicroelectronics ('ST') has developed an integrated 2.4GHz balun design for Nordic's nRF51 and nRF24 Series transceivers and SoCs (Systems-on-Chip) that eliminates the need for RF antenna matching circuitry comprising up to eight passive components (capacitors and inductors) and the interconnections between them. This slashes board space requirements by up to 90 percent while significantly improving performance, simplifying design, and reducing cost and BoM (Bill-of-Material).
The STMicroelectronics design incorporates a BAL-NRF01D3 Integrated Passive Device (IPD) balun matching network in a single 1.0 x 1.5 mm flip-chip package. The IPD balun takes direct differential input from a Nordic nRF device and feeds directly out into a single-ended 50-Ohm antenna. The Nordic nRF24 Series devices require no further matching and harmonic suppression components. The Nordic nRF51 Series devices require only a single 0.8pF capacitor externally to the ST BAL-NRF01D3.
The high Q (antenna performance boosting) thin-film technology employed in the ST BAL-NRF01D3 also significantly improves RF performance and characteristics over the use of standard passive component matching. This includes: a +0.9dB average output power improvement at 4dBm; +1dB better sensitivity at 1Mbs on-air transmit speeds; 10dB better LO (local oscillator) suppression; and -39.1dBm 2nd harmonic suppression. The improved harmonic and LO suppression levels also promote simpler mandatory FCC/ETSI compliance testing and approvals.
The up to 90 percent reduced board space benefit of the BAL-NRF01D3 IPD balun is especially useful in applications where PCB floor space is at a premium (although the overall performance improvements will benefit almost any design) including coin-sized sports watches and related accessories, smartphone and cellphone proximity and alert tags, and smart inventory RF tracking ID tags.
"The BAL-NRF01D3 IPD balun increases and reduces parameters in all the respective desirable areas compared to the use of passive components," comments John Leonard, Tactical Marketing Manager at Nordic Semiconductor. "It minimizes inherent antenna-output losses resulting in a +3db improvement in output power and +1dB better sensitivity, whilst BoM, board real estate, and harmonic levels are all down."
The BAL-NRF01D3 is available now directly from ST Microelectronics and through authorized distributors.
More information on the BAL-NRF01D3 including datasheet and application note can be downloaded direct from the ST web site at: http://www.st.com/internet/analog/product/253840.jsp
About ST Microelectronics
STMicroelectronics is a global leader in the semiconductor market serving customers across the spectrum of sense and power technologies and multimedia convergence applications.The RF IPD (Integrated Passive Device) Technology developed by STMicroelectronics is already used in large volumes by major customer worldwide looking for space saving, improved performance, and high standard quality at a competitive cost. The IPD technology provides superior assembly and test yield on the final application as IPD device performance is lower tolerance compared to SMD components that can vary in opposite way. An IPD alsoeases the work of RF designers when it comes to the layout of the RF antenna interface. For more information, visit tinyurl.com/About-ST
SOURCE: Nordic Semiconductor