This paper reviews the state of emerging transistor technologies capable of terahertz amplification, as well as the state of transistor modeling as required in terahertz electronic circuit research. Commercial terahertz radar sensors of today are being built using bulky and expensive technologies such as Schottky diode detectors and lasers, as well as using some emerging detection methods. Meanwhile, a considerable amount of research effort has recently been invested in process development and modeling of transistor technologies capable of amplifying in the terahertz band. Indium phosphide (InP) transistors have been able to reach maximum oscillation frequency (fmax
) values of over 1 THz for around a decade already, while silicon-germanium bipolar complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (BiCMOS) compatible heterojunction bipolar transistors have only recently crossed the fmax
= 0.7 THz mark. While it seems that the InP technology could be the ultimate terahertz technology, according to the fmax
and related metrics, the BiCMOS technology has the added advantage of lower cost and supporting a wider set of integrated component types. BiCMOS can thus be seen as an enabling factor for re-engineering of complete terahertz radar systems, for the first time fabricated as miniaturized monolithic integrated circuits. Rapid commercial deployment of monolithic terahertz radar chips, furthermore, depends on the accuracy of transistor modeling at these frequencies. Considerations such as fabrication and modeling of passives and antennas, as well as packaging of complete systems, are closely related to the two main contributions of this paper and are also reviewed here. Finally, this paper probes active terahertz circuits that have already been reported and that have the potential to be deployed in a re-engineered terahertz radar sensor system and attempts to predict future directions in re-engineering of monolithic radar sensors.
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