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Low Noise Amplifier Student Design Competition

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A highly linear, low-noise amplifier design competition is open to all students registered at an educational institution. Competitors are required to design, construct, measure, and demonstrate a high linearity (as measured by the output third-order intercept point value), low-noise amplifier at 2.45 GHz. This project will introduce students to linear, low-noise wireless technology. The winner will be judged considering a LNA figure of merit determined from the noise figure, and the output third order intercept point compared to the dc power. The LNA should have a gain higher than 13-dB and an output power compressed at 1 dB higher than 3-dBm using a single power supply with a dc voltage up to 5 V, either plus or minus. No internal batteries are to be used. A schematic of the amplifier is required. The third-order intercept measurement will be performed using two -20 dBm input signals at 2.44 and 2.46 GHz. The LNA figure of merit (LNAFOM) is determined by the following relationship:


  • LNAFOM = LNA figure of Merit
  • OIP3 = Output third order intercept point IP3 of LNA in milliwatts
  • Pdc = DC power drawn by power supply in milliwatts
  • NFdB = LNA noise figure in dB
  • OIP3dBm = Po + 0.5 (Po - P3rd)
  • Po = Output power of the 2.46 GHz signal in dBm
  • P3rd = Output power of the third order product at 2.48 GHz in dBm
  • OIP3 = 10(OIP3dBm/10) in milliwatts

Testing and judging of the amplifiers will be performed at the 2011 International Microwave Symposium to be held in Baltimore, Maryland. A member of the design group must be present at the testing to assist with the evaluation. In the situation of contestants with the same LNA figure of merit, the one with the lowest noise figure will be selected.

The winner (s) will receive a prize of $1000 and will be invited to submit a paper describing his/her project to the IEEE Microwave Magazine. Participants will be recognized at the Student Awards Luncheon at the 2011 International Microwave Symposium. Sponsoring professors are encouraged to introduce this as a project for their students in order to acquaint them to system and circuit level design.


  1. Students enrolled by any educational institutions are eligible to participate to this contest. A statement from the institution confirming 1) good standing of the participating student(s) at the institution; 2) that the LNA is the result of the student(s)'s effort, must be submitted by either a professor or the student's department. Emails are accepted as long as a .edu (or foreign equivalent for educational institutions) email address is used. Contact details of the professor/institution must be provided.
  2. The amplifier may use any technology. Use of commercial amplifier subsystems and passive components is allowed.
  3. The amplifier shall allow for internal inspection of the circuitry.
  4. The amplifier shall be capable of amplifying a 2.45 GHz signal with a minimum 13-dB of small-signal gain with a 50-ohm source and load impedance.
  5. The P1dB (1dB compressed) output power should be greater than 3 dBm.
  6. The amplifier must have no DC voltage at its input and output ports.
  7. The amplifier must be operated at room temperature.
  8. The amplifier shall utilize 3.5mm SMA jacks on both the input and output. The prime power shall use two wires with banana plugs at least 0.5 meter in length.
  9. The prime DC power shall be totally derived from a single supply with a voltage of up to +5 Volts DC or –5 Volts DC employing two wires. A metered power supply will be provided at IMS2011 by the organizers.
  10. No internal batteries may be used.
  11. The performance of the amplifier is based on the output third-order intercept parameters and noise figure at 2.45 GHz measured with a Rohde&Schwartz (model FSQ26, FSU26, or equivalent) signal analyzer using a noise diode source. Two isolated signal generators (model SMA, SMB, or equivalent) will provide the two signals for the third-order measurements. The amplifier circuit with the highest LNA figure of merit shall be declared the winner.
  12. The LNA with the highest calculated LNAFOM will be the winner of the competition. The reward consists of a lump sum of USD1,000 independently of the number of students involved. In the situation of contestants with the same calculated LNA figure of merit, the one with the lowest noise figure will be selected.

This competition is sponsored by the Microwave and Millimeter-Wave Integrated Circuits (MTT-6), Microwave Low-Noise Techniques (MTT-14), Microwave Systems (MTT-16), and Wireless Communications (MTT-20) Technical Committees. Additional information about these committees is found at: .

We look forward to receiving your entries and evaluating your design at IMS2011.

Additional requirements are listed on the main Student Design Competition page.

Updated: 5/19/11

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