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PhD thesis on front-ends for Terahertz heterodyne receivers in Cubesat platforms (H/F)

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : mardi 17 août 2021

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General information

Reference : UMR6164-DAVGON-003
Workplace : RENNES
Date of publication : Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Scientific Responsible name : David GONZALEZ OVEJERO
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

CubeSats are a class of miniaturized satellites for space research, which number of launches is steadily increasing, with several initiatives in Europe. They are (relatively) low-cost and very modular; indeed they consist of several units (U) with dimensions 1U=10×10×10 cm3. CubeSats fly as a secondary pay-load and they can be used to enhance the science objectives of the primary mission, to enable observations in new environments (potentially hazardous) or to serve as proof-of-concept for new technologies. For instance, the twin CubeSats of MarCO (https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/) were used to relay tracking data directly to Earth almost in real time during the critical phases of Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) for the mission Insight, which landed in Mars in November 2018. One of the main challenges for scientific instruments in CubeSats consist in devising new architectures at the same time compact (and well-suited to the CubeSat form factor) and with performances similar to those of the primary payload.

This thesis ambitions the development of a novel ultra-compact instrument (a receiver working around 600 GHz) to study Earth's radiation budget. The instrument will be sized so it can be accommodated in a CubeSat platform. The three main objectives are: 1) the development of high-gain flat antennas that can be easily integrated on the CubeSat's chassis, 2) the design high-sensitivity broadband circuits for the room-temperature receiver in space, and 3) the micro-fabrication of antennas and circuits so one can achieve a mass and volume reduction by a factor of 5 compared to competing solutions. This interdisciplinary project involves 3 CNRS laboratories, which wide expertise in antenna design (IETR), Schottky-based room-temperature receivers (LERMA) and nanotechnology (C2N) will be exploited to guarantee the success of this project, funded by CNRS's “Mission pour les initiatives transverses et interdisciplinaires” (MITI) under the 80Prime program.

The recruited student will first carry out a thorough literature review. His/her tasks will also include the analysis and design of the flat antenna (using ad-hoc tools or commercial software) and the study of the best configuration for the mixer (fundamental, sub-harmonic) as well as its efficient integration with the radiating part. Finally, the candidate will see through the fabrication and testing of the front-end. System aspects (thermal, calibration and power consumption) will be also accounted for in a holistic design approach.

Work Context

This interdisciplinary project involves 3 CNRS laboratories:
1) IETR – UMR CNRS 6164, (www.ietr.fr), experts in antenna design
2) LERMA – UMR CNRS 8112, (https://lerma.obspm.fr/), experts in heterodyne receivers
3) C2N – UMR CNRS 9001, (https://www.c2n.universite-paris-saclay.fr/fr/), experts in micro-fabrication and nano-technologies.

This thesis constitutes a unique opportunity to bring together 3 communities (antennas, circuits and nano-technologies), which often interact by just exchanging the definition of interfaces and do not always take into account the needs of each other. The PhD student (M.Sc. in electrical or electronic engineering or physics) will develop the required analysis tools for the antenna design (IETR). He/she will also study the mixer-antenna configurations that allow one to maximize the sensitivity (LERMA), while accounting for thermal and energy consumption aspects. The goal is to develop a holistic design approach for the front-end. Besides, the student will be trained at C2N to better understand the fabrication processes and their limits, so he/she can take this limits into account in the design phase. Finally, he/she will also contribute to the antenna and receiver measurements and to the global characterization of the front-end.

Constraints and risks

Not applicable

Additional Information

Required education level: Master or equivalent degree in electrical engineering or physics.

Required background: antenna theory, microwave engineering, numerical modeling. Knowledge of terahertz electronics is not required, but it will be appreciated.

Languages: Fluency in English (B2 level). Knowledge of French is not required.

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