Belgian startup targets mm-wave IC design services

Belgian startup targets mm-wave IC design services

Technology News |
By Wisse Hettinga

All four of the company’s co-founders obtained MSc and PhD degrees at KU Leuven specializing in the design of millimeter-wave silicon ICs.

While the use of silicon for automotive sub-100 GHz radar applications is becoming a mainstream topic with the discussion of autonomous vehicles Tusk IC’s focus also extends beyond 100 GHz to contactless sensing and imaging. It is notable that the PhD thesis of founding CEO Wouter Steyaert was entitled: THz electronics design in nanometer CMOS.

The company offers mm-wave IC design services in CMOS and silicon-germanium and has been backed by the Gemma Frisius Fund (GFF), a seed capital fund that was set up in 1997 as a joint venture between KU Leuven, the KBC group and the BNP Paribas group.

The company is focused on IP development in silicon for circuits operating from 3 GHz to beyond 300 GHz with target markets in the following areas: radars for self-driving cars, 5G telecom and wireless video connections and virtual reality headsets and industrial quality control.

“There is a lot of interest in the development of mm-wave chips for 5G and autonomous vehicles, but few engineers have concrete experience with it. Our complementary team has pioneered these frequencies during the research at KU Leuven,” said Steyaert, in a statement. “With Tusk IC we can offer this knowledge and experience to both established multinationals and emerging companies in the mm-wave market,” he added.

Professor Patrick Reynaert (ESAT-MICAS, Department of Electrical Engineering) said: “About 10 years ago, my team at KU Leuven started researching mm-wave silicon chips. We have developed the building blocks for 28 GHz to 600 GHz, used for 5G and radar. My research group has set up a reliable methodology, which offers an answer to the many challenges that come with these high frequencies. This has led to mm-wave circuits whose measured results are closely related to the simulations. In my view, the time is now ripe to make this expertise available for the semiconductor industry.”

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