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Proceedings ArticleDOI

A comparison of lumped-based tunable matching networks for dynamically-load-modulated power amplifiers

Eyad Arabi1, Chris D. Gamlath1, Kevin A. Morris1, Mark A Beach1 
01 Nov 2017-pp 33-36

TL;DR: A novel design method is presented in which the dynamic range of the tunable matching network is plotted on top of the required dynamic load, and the optimal network is chosen based on its dynamic range and the tunability of its capacitors.

AbstractThe power-added-efficiency of power amplifiers deteriorates rapidly as the input power drops. The efficiency at power back-off can be improved by modulating the load dynamically with a tunable matching network. In this work, a novel design method is presented in which the dynamic range of the tunable matching network is plotted on top of the required dynamic load. A comparison between conventional topologies has been performed, and the optimal network is chosen based on its dynamic range and the tunability of its capacitors. As proof of concept, an amplifier has been fabricated and tested achieving a maximum efficiency of 60% and an improvement of 9% with 6 dB of power back-off. The proposed method is useful in designing and optimizing tunable matching networks.

Topics: Amplifier (56%), Capacitor (51%), Network topology (51%), Dynamic load testing (51%), Power (physics) (50%)

Summary (2 min read)

Introduction

  • As mobile communications are evolving towards the fifth generation (5G), the required data rates are increasing considerably.
  • This fact coupled with the high PAPR of the modern digital communications makes the design of efficient PAs very challenging.
  • There have been many techniques to address this problem over the years.
  • The Doherty technique [1] utilizes an auxiliary transistor, which modifies the load of the main transistor resulting in an optimal loading even at power back-off.
  • Unlike static matching networks, the optimization of tunable matching networks is not simple.

A. Source/Load Pull Simulations

  • The first step in the design of DLM PAs is to determine the optimal input and output terminations for the transistor.
  • Loadpull and source-pull simulations have been performed using the non-linear model of the GaN FET used in this work (CREE CGH40010).
  • The design frequency has been chosen arbitrarily as 0.9 GHz, at which a source-pull has been performed first, while the transistor is biased in class-B conditions.
  • Next, loadpull simulations for the fundamental as well as the second 1 and third harmonics have been iteratively performed at the maximum input power of 30 dBm.
  • Next, the harmonics have been fixed and load-pull simulations have been carried out at the fundamental frequency for input power levels of (18 -30) dBm.

B. Static Output Matching Network Design

  • Since the harmonics are kept constant (with respect to the input power) during the load-pull simulation, a separate static network can be used to terminate them properly.
  • This network consists of two transmission lines and two shunt stubs as shown in Fig.
  • The shunt stubs are designed to provide short circuits at the second and third harmonics and open circuits at the fundamental frequency.
  • The two transmission lines, on the other hand, are designed to provide the required phases for the second and third harmonics.
  • After this network is optimized, the load-pull trajectory provided previously can be transformed beyond this network to the tunable network plane (Fig. 3), which is highlighted in red in Fig.

C. Tunable Output Matching Network Design

  • For the case of the tunable network, a lumped approach is adopted in this work.
  • The boundaries at which the values of the tunable capacitors are at their minimum or maximum limits are also indicated in the figure.
  • A typical varactor capacitance and quality factor as functions of the reversed bias are plotted in Fig.
  • It can be seen that low capacitances correspond to high bias voltages while high capacitances correspond to low bias voltages.
  • Taking this important fact into account, it becomes clear that even though all networks can provide the required coverage, the T-network requires much lower capacitance values and can provide a slightly wider coverage as shown in Fig.

A. Tunable Capacitors Realization

  • From the previous analysis, it has been concluded that the T-network provides the optimal solution in this case.
  • The complete amplifier schematic is illustrated in Fig. 3, where the two parts of the OMN (the static and the tunable network) are highlighted.
  • For the static network, a transmission line-based network has been optimized as illustrated previously.
  • Since the amplifier used in this work is intended for highpower applications, varactors with as high breakdown voltages as possible should be selected.
  • For C1, nine varactors have been used in a varactor stack configuration.

B. Power Amplifier Simulation

  • The complete power amplifier has been simulated in this part using realistic models for the transmission lines, lumped components, and the varactors.
  • Two cases have been superimposed: the static matching case, where the amplifier is optimized for the maximum case, and the dynamic case, where the OMN dynamically adapts according to the input power.
  • It can be observed that the amplifier provides almost the same performance for the two cases at the maximum input/output power.
  • When the output power is reduced by 7 dBs from its maximum, the dynamic case offers 18% more efficiency as compared to the static case (Fig. 8).
  • The maximum PAE achieved is about 72 % which drops to about %30 when the input power is reduced from the maximum by 7 dB.

IV. MEASUREMENTS AND DISCUSSION

  • Two digital power supplies (TTi MX100TP) have been used to provide the bias for the transistor and the varactors.
  • The power supplies, signal generator, and power sensor have all been controlled by a common computer.
  • The bias voltage of each varactor configuration has been swept from 10 Volts to 70 Volts, and the full combination has been measured for variable input power levels.
  • The resultant measurements are plotted in Fig. 10.
  • The difference in performance between the simulation and measurement indicates that the model used for the varactors is inadequate.

V. CONCLUSION

  • A dynamically load-modulated PA has been designed, built and tested.
  • A novel design approach, in which multiple matching network topologies are compared, has been presented.
  • Based on this design approach, the optimal network topology has been selected and implemented.
  • The 1 design approach presented in this work may also be extended to other applications such as tunable antennas.

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Arabi, E., Gamlath, C., Morris, K., & Beach, M. (2018). A Comparison
of Lumped-Based Tunable Matching Networks for Dynamically-Load-
Modulated Power Amplifiers. In
2017 IEEE Asia Pacific Microwave
Conference (APMC) (APMC2017): Proceedings of a meeting held 13-
16 November 2017, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
(pp. 33-36). Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
https://doi.org/10.1109/APMC.2017.8251370
Peer reviewed version
Link to published version (if available):
10.1109/APMC.2017.8251370
Link to publication record in Explore Bristol Research
PDF-document
This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online
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A Comparison of Lumped-Based Tunable Matching
Networks for Dynamically-Load-Modulated Power
Amplifiers
Eyad Arabi, Chris Gamlath, Kevin Morris, and Mark Beach
Computer Systems and Networks Group
University of Bristol
Bristol BS8 1UB, the United Kingdom
Email: eyad.arabi@bristol.ac.uk
Abstract—The power-added-efficiency of power amplifiers de-
teriorates rapidly as the input power drops. The efficiency
at power back-off can be improved by modulating the load
dynamically with a tunable matching network. In this work, a
novel design method is presented in which the dynamic range of
the tunable matching network is plotted on top of the required
dynamic load. A comparison between conventional topologies has
been performed, and the optimal network is chosen based on its
dynamic range and the tunability of its capacitors. As proof of
concept, an amplifier has been fabricated and tested achieving a
maximum efficiency of 60% and an improvement of 9% with 6
dB of power back-off. The proposed method is useful in designing
and optimizing tunable matching networks.
I. INTRODUCTION
As mobile communications are evolving towards the fifth
generation (5G), the required data rates are increasing consid-
erably. Such high rates require modulation schemes with high
peak-to-average power ratios (PAPR), which is between 7 dB
and 10 dB for Long Term Evolution (LTE) signals. Developing
RF hardware to transmit such signals with high efficiency is
a difficult task.
One of the essential components of the RF transmitter is
the power amplifier (PA). The PA consumes most of the
DC power in the RF transmitter; therefore, achieving a high
efficiency is crucial. The power added efficiency (PAE) of
the PA is maximum at the maximum input/output power
and deteriorates considerably as the input/output power is
reduced. This fact coupled with the high PAPR of the modern
digital communications makes the design of efficient PAs very
challenging.
There have been many techniques to address this problem
over the years. The Doherty technique [1] utilizes an auxiliary
transistor, which modifies the load of the main transistor
resulting in an optimal loading even at power back-off. An
obvious drawback of Doherty, however, is the need for an
additional transistor with its bias networks and connections.
Another technique is to use a tunable output matching network
(OMN) instead of the typically used static network as shown in
Fig. 1. If the input power level is sensed, the tunable matching
network can dynamically transform the static 50 load to
the optimal reflection coefficient required by the transistor at
Antenna
Tunable
OMN
IMN
RF in
FET
Baseband Control
Fig. 1. Schematic of a typical load modulated power amplifier.
each power level. This technique is known as Dynamic Load
Modulation (DLM) as is illustrated in Fig. 1 [2].
It is clear that the design of tunable OMNs is key to the
success of the design of DLM PAs. Unlike static matching
networks, the optimization of tunable matching networks is
not simple. The dynamic range of the tunable matching
network needs to be optimized against the optimal reflection
coefficients at variable power levels. In this paper, the theo-
retical tools developed in our previous works are employed
to analyze and compare various commonly used matching
networks (MNs) [3], [4]. The dynamic ranges of these MNs
are compared against the design requirements of a DLM PA
to pick the optimal network, which is then realized with high-
power GaAs varactors. A GaN-based amplifier has been built
and tested as proof of concept, which achieves a maximum
PAE of 60% with an improvement of 9% when the input power
is reduced by 6 dBs from the maximum value.
II. OUTPUT MATCHING NETWORK DESIGN
A. Source/Load Pull Simulations
The first step in the design of DLM PAs is to determine the
optimal input and output terminations for the transistor. Load-
pull and source-pull simulations have been performed using
the non-linear model of the GaN FET used in this work (CREE
CGH40010). The design frequency has been chosen arbitrarily
as 0.9 GHz, at which a source-pull has been performed first,
while the transistor is biased in class-B conditions. Next, load-
pull simulations for the fundamental as well as the second

LP Data at transistor-plane
LP Data at tunable NW-plane
1
30 dBm
18 dBm
18 dBm
Fig. 2. Load pull simulation data at the transistor-plane as well as the tunable
matching network plane (illustrated in Fig. 3).
and third harmonics have been iteratively performed at the
maximum input power of 30 dBm. Next, the harmonics have
been fixed and load-pull simulations have been carried out at
the fundamental frequency for input power levels of (18 -30)
dBm. The resultant trace of the optimal reflection coefficients
as a function of the input power is plotted in Fig. 2.
B. Static Output Matching Network Design
Since the harmonics are kept constant (with respect to the
input power) during the load-pull simulation, a separate static
network can be used to terminate them properly. This network
consists of two transmission lines and two shunt stubs as
shown in Fig. 3. The shunt stubs are designed to provide short
circuits at the second and third harmonics and open circuits at
the fundamental frequency. The two transmission lines, on the
other hand, are designed to provide the required phases for the
second and third harmonics. After this network is optimized,
the load-pull trajectory provided previously can be transformed
beyond this network to the tunable network plane (Fig. 3),
which is highlighted in red in Fig. 2. The goal of the dynamic
network is to cover this trajectory.
C. Tunable Output Matching Network Design
For the case of the tunable network, a lumped approach
is adopted in this work. Since there are many different
topologies, which are all commonly used, it is important to
select the topology, which provides the optimal performance.
Four of these networks are compared in this work and are
illustrated in Fig. 4. All of these networks have two tunable
capacitors because it is the smallest number that provides a
two-dimensional coverage in the Smith chart [3]. The coverage
of each network is plotted using the techniques developed
in [3], [4] alongside the load-pull trajectory as shown in
Fig. 6. The boundaries at which the values of the tunable
capacitors are at their minimum or maximum limits are also
indicated in the figure. There are many options to realize
tunable capacitors such as Micro-electro-mechanical (MEMS),
ferroelectric, and varactors. In this work, varactors have been
chosen due to their high power handling capabilities. A typical
varactor capacitance and quality factor as functions of the
C
1
C
2
L
1
L
2
Z
0
, θ
L
L
C
1
C
2
C
1
C
2
C
1
C
2
(A) (B)
(C) (D)
Y
2
, Γ
2
Y
in
Γ
in
Y
in
Γ
in
Y
in
Γ
in
Y
in
Γ
in
Fig. 4. Schematics of the four topologies considered for the DLM design.
(A) T-type. (B) Π-type. (C) Ladder-type. (D) Hybrid Π. Γ
in
= x + jy is the
input reflection coefficient and Y
in
is the input admittance.
reversed bias are plotted in Fig. 5. It can be seen that low
capacitances correspond to high bias voltages while high ca-
pacitances correspond to low bias voltages. The later, however,
is especially sensitive to bias variations because the slope of
the capacitance is very high at low bias values. Also, the
quality factor of the varactors drops considerable at low bias
values as shown in Fig. 5. Therefore, low bias values, which
correspond to high capacitance values, should be avoided.
Taking this important fact into account, it becomes clear that
even though all networks can provide the required coverage,
the T-network requires much lower capacitance values and
can provide a slightly wider coverage as shown in Fig. 7.
Therefore, the T-network has been selected in this stage.
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
4
8
12
16
20
DC Biase Voltage (V)
Capacitance (pF)
0
26
52
78
104
130
Quality Factor
1
Fig. 5. Measured capacitance and quality factor of a typical silicon varactor
(Infineon BB388). This measurement has been performed at 1 GHz.

V
2
V
1
L
Choke
RFRF
Choke
V
gs
V
ds
R
s
C
s
RF
Choke
RF
Choke
Input MN
Stability MN
Static OMN Tunable OMN
Tunable
MN-plane
DC
Block
Transistor-
plane
C
1
C
2
Fig. 3. Schematic of the load-modulated power amplifier with varactors in anti-series configurations to increase their power handling capabilities.
1
C
1,max
C
2,min
C
2,max
C
1,min
Auxiliary
LP Data
1
1
1
(A) (B)
(C) (D)
30
dBm
18
dBm
Fig. 6. The coverage of all the networks and the load-pull trajectory (beyond
the static NW) of the OMN for input power of 18-30 dBm. (A) T-NW. (B)
Π NW. (C) Ladder NW, (D) Hybrid-Π NW.
1
C
2,min
C
2,max
C
1,min
C
1,max
T-Network
Π-Network
Ladder Network
Hybrid-Π NW
Fig. 7. Comparison of the tuning range of the four networks compared in
Fig. 6.
III. POWER AMPLIFIER DESIGN AND SIMULATIONS
A. Tunable Capacitors Realization
From the previous analysis, it has been concluded that
the T-network provides the optimal solution in this case.
The next step in the design of the PA is to optimize the
complete design in a simulation environment. The complete
amplifier schematic is illustrated in Fig. 3, where the two
parts of the OMN (the static and the tunable network) are
highlighted. For the static network, a transmission line-based
network has been optimized as illustrated previously. For
the tunable network, a T-network topology has been chosen
according to the analysis presented in the previous section.
Since the amplifier used in this work is intended for high-
power applications, varactors with as high breakdown voltages
as possible should be selected. In this work, the MTV4090,
which has a breakdown voltage of 90 V, has been used. Due to
the high peak voltage expected in this design, the capacitors C
1
and C
2
have been implemented in an anti-series configuration
to increase their power handling capabilities as shown in Fig.
3 [5]. For C
1
, nine varactors have been used in a varactor
stack configuration. Since the capacitance requirement on C
2
is slightly lower, only six varactors have been used. Since each
varactor can handle up to 90 V of reversed voltage before
breaking down, three varactors in an anti-series configuration
can handle up to 270 V before either of them breaks down.
B. Power Amplifier Simulation
The complete power amplifier has been simulated in this
part using realistic models for the transmission lines, lumped
components, and the varactors. In Fig. 8 the power added
efficiency (PAE) is plotted as a function of the output power.
Two cases have been superimposed: the static matching case,
where the amplifier is optimized for the maximum case, and
the dynamic case, where the OMN dynamically adapts accord-
ing to the input power. It can be observed that the amplifier
provides almost the same performance for the two cases at the
maximum input/output power. When the input/output power
is reduced, however, the tunable matching network provides
an improved efficiency. When the output power is reduced
by 7 dBs from its maximum, the dynamic case offers 18%
more efficiency as compared to the static case (Fig. 8). The
maximum PAE achieved is about 72 % which drops to about
%30 when the input power is reduced from the maximum by 7
dB. At the same conditions, the dynamic matching case results
in an efficiency of about 50 %.

20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Output Power (dBm)
Power Added Efficiency (%)
Dynamic Matching
Static Matching
1
7 dB
18%
improvement
Fig. 8. Simulation results of the load-modulated power amplifier.
IV. MEASUREMENTS AND DISCUSSION
Based on the above-mentioned design, a prototype amplifier
has been implemented in a RT/Duroid 5880 substrate with a
thickness of 0.79 millimeters as shown in Fig. 9. Two digital
power supplies (TTi MX100TP) have been used to provide
the bias for the transistor and the varactors. A vector signal
generator (Keysight E4438C) have been used to provide a
single-tone continuous wave signal, which is amplified using a
driver amplifier before fed to the PA being tested. The output
of the amplifier is fed to a power sensor. The power supplies,
signal generator, and power sensor have all been controlled
by a common computer. The bias voltage of each varactor
configuration has been swept from 10 Volts to 70 Volts, and
the full combination has been measured for variable input
power levels. The resultant measurements are plotted in Fig.
10. A maximum efficiency of about 60 % is achieved with an
improvement of about 9% when the input power is reduced
by about 6 dB. The difference in performance between the
simulation and measurement indicates that the model used for
the varactors is inadequate. The parasitics incorporated in the
model used in this work are frequency and bias independent,
which is not an accurate assumption. Therefore, better results
would be expected if a more realistic model is used. Also,
losses associated with the soldering and integrating such large
number of varactors can also contribute to the reduction of the
efficiency.
V. CONCLUSION
In this work, a dynamically load-modulated PA has been
designed, built and tested. A novel design approach, in which
multiple matching network topologies are compared, has been
presented. Based on this design approach, the optimal network
topology has been selected and implemented. A maximum
measured efficiency of 60 % has been achieved with an
improvement of about 9% for a power back-off of 6 dB. The
V
GS
V
DC
V
1
V
2
Input
MN
Tunable
OMN
Static Output MN
Fig. 9. Photographs of the fabricated amplifier.
32 34 36 38
35
40
45
50
55
60
Output Power (dBm)
Power Added Efficieny (PAE %)
Dynamic Matching
Static Matching
1
4 dB
9%
improvement
Fig. 10. Measured results of the load-modulated power amplifier.
design approach presented in this work may also be extended
to other applications such as tunable antennas.
REFERENCES
[1] W. H. Doherty, “A New High Efficiency Power Amplifier for Modu-
lated Waves, Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers, vol. 24,
pp. 1163–1182, Sept 1936.
[2] F. H. Raab, “High-efficiency linear amplification by dynamic load mod-
ulation, in IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium Digest,
2003, vol. 3, pp. 1717–1720 vol.3, June 2003.
[3] E. Arabi, K. A. Morris, and M. A. Beach, Analytical Formulas for the
Coverage of Tunable Matching Networks for Reconfigurable Applica-
tions, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, vol. PP,
no. 99, pp. 1–10, 2017.
[4] E. Arabi, X. Jiao, K. A. Morris, and M. A. Beach, “Analysis of the
Coverage of Tunable Matching Networks with Three Tunable Elements,
in IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium Digest, 2017, June
2017.
[5] K. Buisman, L. C. N. de Vreede, L. E. Larson, M. Spirito, A. Akhnoukh,
Y. Lin, X. Liu, and L. K. Nanver, “Low-distortion, low-loss varactor-
based adaptive matching networks, implemented in a silicon-on-glass
technology, in 2005 IEEE Radio Frequency integrated Circuits (RFIC)
Symposium - Digest of Papers, pp. 389–392, June 2005.
Citations
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Gavin T. Watkins1
TL;DR: Although highly spectrally efficient, OFDM suffers from a large peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR), where the transmit signal peak envelope power can be 12 dB greater than the average value.
Abstract: Mobile data traffic is expected to triple between 2018 and 2021 [1]. To meet past and future growth targets in an increasingly limited electromagnetic spectrum, wireless communications systems have evolved at a staggering rate. Current mobile phone standards like 3rd Generation Partnership Project LTE and Wi-Fi exploit orthogonal frequencydivision multiplexing (OFDM) as a means of achieving the required wireless data rates. OFDM is also a potential candidate for future 5G services. Although highly spectrally efficient, OFDM suffers from a large peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR), where the transmit signal peak envelope power can be 12 dB greater than the average value.

1 citations


Cites background from "A comparison of lumped-based tunabl..."

  • ...Increasing the number of varactors in a TMN to two as in [19] gets closer to tracing the optimum impedance trajectory, but at increased complexity....

    [...]

  • ...Varactor diodes also offer the f lexibil ity of both shunt [18] and series [21] configurations, with either single or multiple tuning elements [19], as shown below in Figure 7....

    [...]


References
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI
W. H. Doherty1
01 Sep 1936
Abstract: This paper introduces a new form of linear power amplifier for modulated radio-frequency waves. Plate circuit efficiencies of sixty to sixty-five per cent independent of modulation are obtained by means of the combined action of varying load distribution among the tubes and varying circuit impedance over the modulation cycle. The theory of operation is developed and detailed observations on the behavior of tubes in the new circuit are given in the paper. The use of stabilized feedback in connection with this circuit is discussed and significant measurements on a laboratory model of a fifty-kilowatt transmitter are shown.

877 citations


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Abstract: HE use of increasingly higher power levels in broadcasting in the last few years has attached new importance to the matter of more efficient operation of the high-power stages in radio transmitters. The resulting reductions in cost of power, size of high-voltage transformers and rectifier, and water cooling requirements, are of particular importance in transmitters having outputs of 50 kilowatts or more.

640 citations


"A comparison of lumped-based tunabl..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...The Doherty technique [1] utilizes an auxiliary transistor, which modifies the load of the main transistor resulting in an optimal loading even at power back-off....

    [...]


Proceedings ArticleDOI
08 Jun 2003
Abstract: Load modulation is a new technique in which amplitude-modulated signals are produced with high efficiency by dynamic variation of the load impedance of the power amplifier. The prototype MOSFET PA operates in class E and produces a peak output of 19 W at 30 MHz with an efficiency of 66 percent. Load modulation is accomplished by a T network with a pair of high-voltage MOSFETs that act as a voltage-variable capacitor. The envelopes of a variety of different signals are successfully generated. For a Rayleigh (multi-carrier) envelope with a 10-dB peak-to-average ratio, the average efficiency is twice that achieved in linear operation of the same PA.

132 citations


Proceedings ArticleDOI
12 Jun 2005
TL;DR: A low-loss, low-distortion continuously tunable matching network, is demonstrated at 2 GHz in a silicon-on-glass varactor IC technology, and exhibits less than 0.5 dB loss.
Abstract: A low-loss, low-distortion continuously tunable matching network, is demonstrated at 2 GHz in a silicon-on-glass varactor IC technology. The tuner uses an optimized varactor configuration to minimize distortion, and exhibits less than 0.5 dB loss and IM3 250:1 to 1:1.

42 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Tunable matching networks (MNs) are essential components for agile radio frequency systems. To optimally design such networks, the total area they cover on the Smith chart needs to be determined. In this paper, the coverage areas of typical MNs have been determined analytically for the first time. It has been found that the coverage area is encompassed by up to five arcs. Analytical expressions for the centers and radii for these arcs have been derived. The theoretical analysis is provided for four typical MNs and verified by circuit simulation and measured data. Moreover, a dynamically load-modulated power amplifier has been designed using the presented theoretical techniques, which demonstrates a measured improvement in the power added efficiency of up to 5% in the frequency range of (0.8–0.9) GHz.

11 citations


"A comparison of lumped-based tunabl..." refers background or methods in this paper

  • ...The coverage of each network is plotted using the techniques developed in [3], [4] alongside the load-pull trajectory as shown in Fig....

    [...]

  • ...All of these networks have two tunable capacitors because it is the smallest number that provides a two-dimensional coverage in the Smith chart [3]....

    [...]

  • ...In this paper, the theoretical tools developed in our previous works are employed to analyze and compare various commonly used matching networks (MNs) [3], [4]....

    [...]


Frequently Asked Questions (1)
Q1. What contributions have the authors mentioned in the paper "A comparison of lumped-based tunable matching networks for dynamically-load-modulated power amplifiers" ?

In this work, a novel design method is presented in which the dynamic range of the tunable matching network is plotted on top of the required dynamic load.