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Winfried Bakalski DL5MGY and co-authors

Baluns For Microwave

Applications Part 1

In applications involving mixers and presented to the symmetrical port

push-pull rf power amplifiers, baluns must be equal. If this is not the case,
are used for the transition from the then there will be a decrease in the
symmetrical to the asymmetrical sec- efficiency.
tion. Whilst for short-wave applica-
tions a transformer can be used, many The symmetrical port must be well
different techniques are used for UHF isolated from earth. This is especially
applications. important for power amplifiers, since
parasitic oscillations can occur.
The insertion loss should be kept as
1. low as possible.
Introduction When power amplifiers are used in class
C, not only is an optimal loaded imped-
ance needed at the operating frequency,
In rf technology, baluns (balanced to but a very low-impedance load is needed
unbalanced) play an important role. In at the second harmonic, with an open
antennas, we need to guarantee a transi- circuit at the third harmonic, in order to
tion from the coaxial line to the sym- obtain optimal amplifier efficiency [1].
metrical two-wire system with as little The basic idea behind the construction of
reflection as possible. The same is a balun can easily be outlined. Two
needed in the rf electronics itself, i.e. in signals 180 out of phase (symmetrical
the designing of mixers and, in particu- port) are synchronised in their phases
lar, in push-pull power amplifiers. A and their outputs are added. Many de-
good overall view of various types of signs involving /4 phasing lines (90)
balun (even if it is not complete) can be and /2 phasing lines (180) have crys-
found, among other things, in [1-3]. tallised out of this basic idea.
A balun has to have the following char- Over time, a large number of designs
acteristics: have been collected. This article, though,
will concentrate on designs that can be
As precise a 180 phase shift as realised using no more than double-sided
possible must be maintained between printed circuit boards, and that are used
the two terminals of the symmetrical for applications in push-pull power am-
port. plifiers. Naturally this implies the use of
In power amplifiers, the impedance microstrips and discrete components


Fig. 1: Line balun with matching network.

such as coils and capacitors. A line based capacitors.

solution will be discussed first followed
by the LC balun and its further develop- Since power amplifiers are usually
ments. matched with a low load impedance, this
results in a Zw which must be lower than
50 (cf. /4 transformer equation). The
precise impedance can thus be selected to
2. have another value, depending on the
desired input impedance of the balun.
The line balun with matching With CM and CE, the real and imaginary
network components of Z0 can be set. The capaci-
tors, CK, act as DC block capacitors. The
DC feed comes through two /4 trans-
Fig. 1 shows the optimal design for a formers. This gives a short-circuit, at the
power amplifier balun in the range from second harmonic, at the two collectors of
approximately 400MHz to 1.5GHz. the rf transistors, because the /4 trans-
former transforms a short-circuit into a
The actual balun is in this case a /4 long short-circuit again at double the funda-
line section with a series connected mental frequency, 2f0.
matching circuit. The line balun de-
scribed in [1, 3] (called a bazooka balun An open circuit is achieved on the collec-
in [3]), we are normally dealing with a tors of the rf transistors by means of a
semi-rigid line with Zw = 50. The resonant circuit with CA at third har-
length is precisely /4. As a rule we can monic, 3f0. This circuitry is required to
still not achieve optimal matching with achieve a high efficiency in non-linear
the line balun alone, an additional match- operation. Fig. 2 shows a 900MHz power
ing network is connected to it in series. amplifier with an integrated circuit. This
This consists of a microstrip, with an IC contains a push-pull power amplifier
impedance, Zw, of 50 and trimming that is set to a 50 output using the


Fig. 2: A 900-MHz GSM power amplifier module with line balun.

circuit described above. not possible with fundamental frequency

matching alone.
This design has two disadvantages:-
The electrical length of the /4 line
section must be guaranteed within 3.
narrow tolerances.
The LC Balun
The design requires manual
The length of this /4 line also represents The LC balun [2, 5] is actually a bridge
the limit for the application at low fre- circuit (Fig. 3) and is also referred to in
quencies, since this becomes longer as English speaking countries as a lattice-
the frequency decreases. type balun. It made its first appearance
in a patent document from 1934
If the frequency exceeds 1.5GHz, it is (C.Lorenz AG Berlin, Tempelhof )[5]. It
apparent that trimming capacitors are consists of two capacitors and two in-
practical up to a maximum of 1.5GHz, ductances, which create a phase displace-
since better microwave trimming capaci- ment of 90 for each connection of the
tors have their resonant frequency at 1 to symmetrical input.
2GHz. Thus this design is unusable for
frequencies exceeding approximately One very good characteristic of the balun
1.5GHz. On the other hand, it offers an is the ability to match any symmetrical
optimal load impedance, among other input impedance and any asymmetrical
things, for the amplifier in that, even for real output impedance. Moreover, it is
the non-linear application case (class C) outstandingly suitable for integration,
even the harmonic load can also be and is therefore also used for smaller
matched. Thus this design can be used to power amplifiers (Fig. 4). We should
achieve very high efficiencies, which is also look at the power supply of rf


Fig. 3: The LC balun bridge in classical representation.

transistors. If the whole assembly is and for the capacitances

mounted on a double-sided printed cir-
cuit board, then the rf shunt can be 1
replaced by a radial stub [6-8] and the Z C
choke by a /4 transformer with an
impedance as high as possible. The important thing about this calcula-
tion is that we are assuming that the
For calculation: components are ideal and, more impor-
1. First all impedances and the operating tantly, that the connection lines are infi-
frequency are determined. Using the for- nitely short. If we now construct such a
mula to calculate the circuit frequency: bridge for high frequencies (from
500MHz), we should also take the con-
= 2f nection lines into account. With a simula-
tion tool such as Ansoft Serenade [S1] or
Subsequently, the characteristic imped- Eagleware Genesys [S3], this is done by
ance of the bridge circuit can be deter- inserting the appropriate microstripes
mined using the expression: (for tracks) and/or inserting computed
inductances (1mm wire 1nH).
Z c = R1 RL
We should also take care that the load
where R1 is the symmetrical input resist- impedance actually corresponds to reality
ance from Fig. 4 and RL. (is the connection line, for example,
2. Now the component part values are actually 50? what happens if a DC
determined. For the typical case in which block is used?) otherwise the above
real impedances are used: equations will not apply.
When selecting component parts, we
L = L1 = L2 should take care that we are operating
and: below their resonance frequencies which
becomes more and more difficult as the
C = C1 = C2 frequency increases. So it is recom-
mended to use the S-parameter files from
For the inductances, L, we obtain the the component part manufacturer. We
expression soon understand here that the lumped
component parts used put an upper fre-
ZC quency limit on the design.
Using microstrips as a replacement for


Fig. 4: The LC-balun for a push-pull power amplifier.

the lumped component parts can be a Saving on expensive microwave compo-

solution:- nent parts
An inductance can be realised by select- Greater freedom to design with a simula-
ing an appropriate ratio between the line tor (every miscrostrip is defined in terms
impedance and the length. Likewise, a of length and width). We can also obtain
capacitance can be realised by using an a low load impedance for the second
open circuit microstrip. A good rf short- harmonic and an open circuit for the
circuit (rf shunt) can be created using a third harmonic.
radial stub [6-8].
A direct power supply feed for the power
transistors of a push-pull amplifier is
made possible through the line structure.
The radial stub fulfils two tasks here:-
The Microstrip Based LC Rf shunt for the power supply
Balun [9]
Defined shunt for the inductance L1
A method for the calculations of this
With the knowledge that we can replace balun is available when using the exam-
lumped component parts by microstrips, ple of Ansoft Serenade. The above balun
we can design a balun that makes use of has been calculated and simulated for an
these features. Fig. 5 shows such a operating frequency of 2.45GHz and
balun:- symmetrical input impedance of 28.
In comparison with an LC-balun using The substrate used was Rogers RO4003,
discrete component parts, this type of with a substrate thickness of 510m and
design has a number of advantages: r = 3.38.


Fig. 5: Microstrip LC balun for the 2.45GHz ISM band with a differential
. (Substrate: Rogers RO4003 with r = 3.38 and a
input impedance of 28
thickness of 0.510mm.).
To determine the track widths it is best to McGraw-Hill, New York, Second edi-
use the Transmission Lines tool from tion, 1984
Serenade, or something similar such as,
for example, Appcad [S2]. We obtain a [4] S.A.El-Hamamsy, Design of High-
width of approximately 1.15mm. for a Efficiency RF Class-D Power Amplifier,
50 line. IEEE Transactors on Power Electronics,
Vol. 9, Pp. 297-308, May, 1994
(To be continued)
[5] C.Lorenz AG Berlin-Tempelhof, Cir-
cuit layout for transition from a sym-
metrical to an asymmetrical electrical
A1. layout, in particular for high-frequency
applications German patent, April 1932,
Literature References For no. 603816
Part 1 [6] Gunthard Kraus, Earthing in HF and
microwave circuits, VHF Communica-
tions 3/2000 pp 167 - 178
[1] Mongia, R., Bahl, I. and Bhartia, P,
RF and Microwave Coupled-Line Cir- [7] J.R.Vinding, Radial line stubs as
cuits, pp. 321-322, Artech House, Nor- elements in strip line circuits, Nerem
wood, MA 02062, First edition, 1999 Record, Pp. 108-109, 1967
[2] Alois Krischke, K.Rothammel, Roth- [8] Agilent Technologies (previously
ammels antenna book, Franck-Kosmos Hewlett-Packard), Broadband microstrip
Verlag, Stuttgart, 11th edition, 1995 mixer design the butterfly mixer, Agilent
Technologies Application Note, (http://
[3] Johnson, Richard C. and Jasik, www.agilent.com), Vol. 976, Pp. 4 6,
Henry, Antenna Engineering Handbook, 1988


[9] W.Bakalski, W.Simbrger, H.Knapp, [S3] Eagleware Genesys: http://ww-

A.L.Scholz, Lumped and Distributed w.eagleware.com, Not to be confused
Lattice-type LC-baluns, Proceedings of with the Eagle CAD program from Cad-
the International Microwave Symposium soft. You can also, from time to time,
(IMS2002) Seattle, June 2002 find a demo version of the Eagleware
Genesys Suite on this page

Software on the internet
[S1] Ansoft Serenade 8.5: http://ww-
w.ansoft.com, A restricted student ver- Winfried Bakalski DL5MGY, Herbert
sion is available Knapp OE1RNC, Werner Simbrger
OE6RUD, Arpad L.Scholtz OE4SZW
[S2] Appcad 2.0: http://www.agilent-
.com/, This is a freely available tool for
all possible calculations involving elec-
trical engineering and metrology

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Winfried Bakalski DL5MGY

Baluns for microwave

applications - part 2

Continuation of connections 1 and 2 on the Smith chart

(Fig. 7) whilst perfect matching is ob-
tained differentially (port 3).
To determine the track widths of a 4.2. Substitution of concentrated
microstrip-based LC balun [9], it is best structural elements:
to use the Transmission Lines tool
from Serenade, or something similar First the substrate wavelength is deter-
such as, for example, Appcad [S2]. Here mined for the simulation:
we obtain a width of approximately
1.15mm. for a 50 line. 1
op =
4.1. Dimensioning of an ideal LC f op reff 0 0
balun in accordance with Section 2: where
For the load RL = 50 and a differential fop is the operating frequency and
input impedance of R1 = 28, we obtain
a characteristic impedance of r,eff the effective permittivity.
An estimation with r,eff r as start
Z C = R1 RL = 37.4 parameter is completely adequate for the
Thus with f = 2.45GHz, we can use the following simulation, but the calculated
formulae (1) to get the values for C = lengths will all depart somewhat from the
1.73pF and L = 2.43nH. Fig. 6 shows the physical lengths.
Serenade circuit diagram for the first Substitution of L1 [1]:
simulation run and Fig. 7 shows the
result, which reproduces a differential
feeding of the balun with two ideal
transformers (S33). To ensure that this
differential impedance does not arise due
to complete asymmetry of the two con-
nections, the two connections for the
differential input must be individually
inspected for two-port balance. With a
symmetrical resistance of 28, this gives
the termination through 2 x 14 (port 1
(S11) and port 2 (S22)). We can already
L1 = Z 0 tan < 90o 90o op
recognise the phase displacement by 90 4



Fig. 7: Impedances of LC balun: S11 and S22 represent the impedance of a

connection to earth in each case. Note the 90 phase displacements of S11 and
If we select Z0 = 38 for this, we obtain The length is calculated using op =
for 67mm at
2 2.45GHz 2.43nH 67mm
tan = 1 L1 = 8.3mm
38 8
With the relationship tan (45) = 1, we as the start parameter for the following
obtain the length of the microstrip, since simulation.
Substitution of C1 [1]:
op The substitution of the series capacitance
= 45o is not possible unless a /4 phasing line
8 is used. Since a line of this kind of length
would lead to a severe limitation of the



Fig. 9: Simulation result following substitution.

operating bandwidth of the balun, this Substitution of L2 [1]:

capacitance is retained as a separate
structural element. In the course of the
simulation, it will become clear that the
feed inductances (tracks) lead to a reduc-
tion in the capacitance initially calcu-
lated. The reason for this lies in the phase
displacement by the connection lines and
inductances (e.g. caused by bond induct-
L 2 = Z 0 sin < 90o 90o = op
ances in chip capacitors, but also by the 4
inductive element of the capacitor itself).
The inductance obtained from the LC
balun corresponds to that from L1. Since
for this application the stripline length is
limited by the layout, we must select a




Fig 10 : Balun simulation results.

higher value for Z0 here, which is ex- Substitution of C2 [1]:

pressed in terms of a thinner stripline. If,
for example, an impedance is selected of
Z0 = 72 (corresponds here to a width of
0.6mm.), then using the above expression
we obtain:
2 2.45GHz 2.43nH
sin = 0.5
and using arcsin (0.5) = 30, this gives us C 2 = < 90o 90o op
a microstrip length of approximately Z0 4
5.6mm. The substitution of the capacitance, C2,
can be very simply accomplished by
using an open microstrip. If, as in L1, we

Fig 12 : LC balun bridge with common impedances.

select an impedance, Z0 = 38, then we shows the resulting overall circuit dia-
obtain gram, with a DC feed for the high-level
stage transistors of the power amplifier.
tan = 2 2.45GHz 1.73 pF 38 1 Fig. 11 shows the final results of the
matching circuit.
and this gives a length of 8.3mm. as the
start parameter. 4.5. The dual-band LC balun [9]
4.3. Optimising of substituted It would often be an advantage if the
elements Balun could be used for any two differ-
ent frequency ranges simultaneously (e.g.
Since the calculated values due to the use for 2m and 70cm band applications).
of r,eff = r represent only start param- This is in fact possible if a parallel
eters (r,eff is actually dependent on both resonant circuit is used instead of the
the track width and the frequency), the inductance, L, and a series resonant
LC balun must be further optimised. circuit instead of the capacitance, C (Fig.
However, this step need not be carried 12).
out so intensively, since some further
displacement can be brought about The bridge now exhibits interesting fre-
through the use of the T-pieces. Ansoft quency dependent behaviour, as can be
Serenade can calculate a Smith chart seen from Fig. 13.
which is identical to that of the LC balun For frequencies which are lower than the
(Figs. 8 and 9). frequency of resonance of the resonant
4.4. Insertion of T-pieces and circuit, this balun behaves like a standard
LC balun. If the frequency is increased,
matching of layout to geometrical then the roles of the capacitance and the
requirements inductance are reversed. If the bridge is
We should proceed by stages here, and re-designed to become a push-pull power
incorporate and simulate one T-piece amplifier for the application, then we
after another into the circuit diagram. obtain the circuit diagram shown in Fig.
The incorporation of such T-pieces has a 14. This already contains the power
very strong influence on the behaviour of supply feed. For frequencies exceeding
the bridge (alteration of microstrip 2GHz, the use of radial stubs is recom-
lengths) and because of the large number mended, in addition to capacitors with
of variables it becomes even more diffi- high nominal values.
cult to optimise the situation. Fig. 10

Fig 13 : Behaviour of LC balun with frequency.

For the calculations of the dual-band

balun, the following procedures can be Z C1 Z C 2 2 1
Lp = 1 2
1. First all impedances and the operating 1 Z C 1 2 Z C 2
frequencies are established. The circuit
frequencies are calculated, using the for- 2 1

mulae 1 2
CS =
1 = 2f1 and 2 = 2f 2 ( 2 > 1 ) 1 Z C 2 2 Z C1
The characteristic impedances of the 1 Z C 2 2 Z C 1
Cp =
bridge circuit can be calculated using
( 2
Z C 1 Z C 2 2 1
Z C1 = R1 RL and Z C 2 = R2 RL It is again very important to note that
This makes it clear that even frequency- these expressions are valid only for ideal
dependent load impedances can be structural elements. i.e., for a real layout
brought into play for the calculations. both the feed sections and the parasitic
elements of the structural components
2. For Ls, Lp and Cs, Cp, the following have to be taken into account. In real
expressions are structures, this will mean the resonant
circuits have to be stretched in their
1 Z C 1 + 2 Z C 2 frequencies of resonance.
LS = 2 2
2 1 Thus the use of S-parameter files is just


Fig 14 : Dual band LC balun.

as important in the simulation as the 5.

precise entering of the layout into the
corresponding simulator. Stage by stage Bibloiography
insertion of line sections and T-pieces is
recommended, as is already done with
LC-baluns based on microstrips. [1] Mongia, R., Bahl, I. and Bhartia, P.
RF and Microwave Coupled-Line Cir-
cuits, pp. 321-322 Artech House, Nor-
wood, MA 02062 First edition, 1999
[2] Alois Krischke, K.Rothammel Roth-


ammels antenna book Franck-Kosmos 6.

Verlag, Stuttgart 11th edition, 1995
[3] Johnson, Richard C. and Jasik, Henry Software On The Internet:
Antenna Engineering Handbook Mc-
Graw-Hill, New York Second edition,
1984 [S1] Ansoft Serenade 8.5: A restricted
student version is available http://ww-
[4] S.A.El-Hamamsy Design of High- w.ansoft.com
Efficiency RF Class-D Power Amplifier
IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, [S2] Appcad 2.0: This is a freely avail-
Vol. 9, Pp. 297-308, May, 1994 able tool for all possible calculaitons
involving electrical engineering and me-
[5] C.Lorenz AG, Berlin-Tempelhof Cir- trology http://www.agilent.com/
cuit layout for transition from a sym-
metrical to an asymmetrical electrical [S3] Eagleware Genesys: Not to be con-
layout, in particular for high-frequency fused with the Eagle CAD program from
applications German patent, April 1932, Cadsoft. You can also, from time to time,
no. 603816 find a demo version of the Eagleware
Genesys Suite on this page http://ww-
[6] Gunthard Kraus Earthing in HF and w.eagleware.com
microwave circuits VHF Communica-
toions, issue 3/2000 pp 2-8
[7] J.R.Vinding Radial line stubs as
elements in strip line circuits Nerem
Record, Pp. 108-109, 1967
[8] Agilent Technologies (previously
Hewlett-Packard) Broadband microstrip
mixer design the butterfly mixer Agilent
Technologies Application Note (http://
www.agilent.com) Vol. 976, Pp. 4-6,
[9] W.Bakalski, W.Simbrger,H.Knapp,
A.L.Scholtz Lumped and Distributed
Lattice-type LC-baluns Proceedings of
the International Microwave Symposium
(MS2002) Seattle, June 2002