This paper deals with the system and circuit-level aspects of an ultra-low-power robust wireless node for an asymmetric wireless link. A single building block TX front-end for a frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) transmitter implemented in silicon-on-anything (SOA) bipolar technology is presented. It is realized with a directly modulated RF cascoded Colpitts power voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO), a frequency locked loop for center frequency calibration, and a digital pre-distortion algorithm for accurate frequency bins synthesis. The TX front-end draws only 1 mA at -18 dBm output power. By combining digital system techniques for frequency hopping and merging the VCO and the power amplifier (PA), a robust solution is obtained for indoor ultra-low-power wireless links. The proposed pre-distortion concept allows reduction of the hardware complexity, while the combination of a cascode output buffer and a common-collector Colpitts VCO allows us to reduce the complete FHSS front-end to a single building block that directly drives the antenna through a balun. A dedicated digital algorithm on the receiver side reduces the center frequency offset from a maximum value of 8.2 MHz to less than 8 ppm avoiding the use of any crystal on the transmitter side. Precision in the hopping synthesis is obtained by employing a ST-DFT based demodulator with differential encoding and an offset sending technique. The novel FHSS-predistortion concept has been verified by realizing a full wireless link that achieves a bit error rate better than 1.1% at -25 dBm output power while transmitting across an 8 meters indoor non-line-of-sight (NLOS) path.
Lopelli, E., Tang, van der, J. D., & Roermund, van, A. H. M. (2007). An 1mA Ultra-low Power FHSS TX Front-end Utilizing Direct-modulation with Digital Pre-distortion. IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, 42(10), 2212-2223. https://doi.org/10.1109/JSSC.2007.905229