6 ECTS credits
170 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4016120ENR for all students in the 1st semester at a (E) Master - advanced level.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Taught in
Partnership Agreement
Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
Faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen
Educational team
Yves Rolain (course titular)
Activities and contact hours
42 contact hours Lecture
30 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
Course Content

Course charter

This course introduces the analysis, the design and the measurement of electronic circuits operating at RF and microwave frequencies.

Overview of the content

  • The distributed system: a short rehearsal
  • Why does an RF design differ from a lumped design?
  • Analysis of distributed networks
    • Waves to represent a N-port system
    • Matrix representation of a LTI N-port (S-parameters, ABCD matrix, ...)
    • Voltage waves, power waves and complex reference impedances
    • Measure waves: the coupler as a wave meter
    • The vectorial network analyser and its calibration
    • A primer in nonlinear characterisation and its figures of merit
  • Design of active RF and microwave systems
    • Generalized S-parameters
    • The complex conjugate match condition
    • S-parameters description: shifting the reference planes
    • S-parameters description: de-embedding a DUT
    • The flow-graph as a cascade and analysis tool
    • The flow graph as a tool to evaluate frequency responses: Mason's rule
    • Stability of an RF amplifier: conditional and unconditional case
    • Stability of an RF Amplifier: The Rollet factor
    • Relation between power gain and termination
    • Set the power gain for a unilateral amplifier: Gain circles
      • The unconditionally stable case
      • The conditionally stable case
      • Testing for unilaterality: the unilateral figure of merit
    • The VSWR in design: constant VSWR circles
    • Noise behavior of an RF amplifier
      • A noise theory primer: thermal noise, shot noise and 1/f noise
      • The noise figure and its measurement
      • Cascading noisy 2-ports: how to minimize noise corruption
      • The noise parameters and their measurement
      • Link noise figure and termination: the noise circles
    • Examples of some designs (low noise trade-off, conditionally stable case, ...)
  • High level design of a transceiver
    • Transceiver architectures
    • Dynamic range of a receiver
    • Design of a super heterodyne transceiver
    • The power and frequency budget as a design tool
  • Calculating antenna radiation
    • The magnetic currents and charges
    • The generalised potentials and the extended Maxwell equations
    • Dual sources and solutions
    • The surface equivalence theorem
    • The elementary Huygens source and its radiation pattern
    • Aperture antennae and their realisation
    • Radiation of a magnetic slot
  • The patch antenna
    • Properties and realization
    • The cavity model for the source term determination
    • The far field radiation of the antenna
    • The antenna parameters of the patch antenna
    • How to feed a patch antenna?
  • Wave propagation in an inhomogeneous atmosphere
    • The eiconal equation
    • The transport equations
    • The specific propagation in the layered atmosphere
    • The definiton of the radio horizon
  • Designing filters with the Richards transform
    • Building blocks for a distributed element synthesis
    • The Richards transform
    • Synthesis of a stub filter with Kuroda's identities
    • Realization in a planar technology: microdtrip filters
    • Extending the realizable impedance range: coupled lines
  • Designing parallel coupled bandpass filters
    • Using the bandpass transformation
    • Equivalence of an LC and a transmission line resonator
    • The susceptance slope parameter
    • The J-invertor as a circuit element
    • Introduction of the J-invertor in the design
    • Realization of the J-invertor: the coupled line
Course material
Digital course material (Recommended) : Additional information about the department, the research activities and much more can be found on the website http://wwwtw.vub.ac.be/ond/elec, http://wwwtw.vub.ac.be/ond/elec
Course text (Required) : High-frequency Electronics and Antennas, Rolain, VUB, 2220170019901, 2023
Additional info


General context

Additional information about the department, the research activities and much more can be found on the website http://wwwtw.vub.ac.be/ond/elec

Course material

Course notes cover the material, and are available both on-line and in printed format

Additional study material is available in the following books:

  • 'Microwave engineering: Passive circuits', Peter A. Rizzi,Prentice Hall
  • Microwave engineering using microstrip circuits', E.H. Fooks and R.A. Zakarevivius, Prentice Hall
  • 'Microwave filters, Impedance matching networks and coupling structures' G. Matthaei, L. Young and E.M.T. Jones, Artech House books.
  • 'Microwave engineering' Pozar, John Wiley and Sons, 1998
  • 'Microwave Transistor Amplifiers: analysis and design', G. Gonzales, Prentice Hall, 1997
  • 'Physics of semiconductor devices', S.M. Sze, John Wiley and Sons
  • 'Microwave semiconductor devices', Sigfrid Yngvesson, Kluwer Academic Publishers
Learning Outcomes

Algemene competenties

General expectation

An independent problem solving and critical attitude are main skills for an engineer and are therefore mandatory for any item treated in this course.

Detailed outcomes

To successfully complete the course, you are expected to master theoretic concepts

  • Fully understand the difference between a distributed and a lumped system
  • Understand the principles of operation of the most basic instruments for microwaves measurements
  • Understand the basic calibration techniques for a vector network analyzer
  • Understand the concepts behind the design of unilateral amplifiers
  • Explain the design procedure for a unilateral amplifier based on S-parameters and the use of the Smith chart
  • Understand, explain and use the noise properties of an RF amplifier (Noise figure, noise measure, noise parameters)
  • Understand, explain and apply a matching trade-off to obtain a low-noise amplifier
  • Understand, explain and obtain the power and frequency budget for a transceiver chain
  • Understand, explain and use the design frameworks for transmission line filters and their potential pitfalls
  • Understand, explain and master the use of the extended Maxwell equations and far field calculations based on the associated extended potentials
  • Understand the operation of the patch antenna, including source calculation, far field and antenna parameters
  • Understand the wave propagation in inhomogeneous media such as the atmosphere

Since for an engineer practical application of the material is crucial, you are also expected to

  • Independently design a narrow-band amplifier operating at RF frequencies using a CAD environment
  • Independently design a transmission line filter and/or an antenna using a CAD environment
  • Layout the circuit and realize it in a planar transmission line based technology
  • Independently perform the sanity checks to validate the design
  • Measure the response of the RF amplifier, the filter or the antenna with appropriate guidance
  • Analyze the measured response and interpret the potential differences with the design
  • Present, explain and motivate your realization in an oral session

Factors that determine the judgement

  • You are critical with respect to your explanations and results
  • You solve simple, practical problems that are in direct relation to the course
  • You fluently understand the hypotheses used in the theory and can indicate their importance.
  • You show some practical design experience (Simulation, measurement, prototyping, measurement)
  • You express yourself in a clear, structured way, both in oral and written communication

We expect that you already have prior knowledge

  • A good knowledge of basic electromagnetics, including transmission line theory, the Smith chart, impedance matching, skin effect
  • Good lab skills in the realization and the measurement of circuitry
  • Basic skills in network sythesis of lumped networks (type I and II synthsis, preferably also type III (Darlington) synthesis)

This course contributes to the following programme outcomes of the Master in Electronics and Information Technology Engineering:

The Master in Engineering Sciences has in-depth knowledge and understanding of
1. exact sciences with the specificity of their application to engineering
2. integrated structural design methods in the framework of a global design strategy
3. the advanced methods and theories to schematize and model complex problems or processes

The Master in Engineering Sciences can
4. reformulate complex engineering problems in order to solve them (simplifying assumptions, reducing complexity)
5. conceive, plan and execute a research project, based on an analysis of its objectives, existing knowledge and the relevant literature, with attention to innovation and valorization in industry and society
6. correctly report on research or design results in the form of a technical report or in the form of a scientific paper
8. collaborate in a (multidisciplinary) team
9. work in an industrial environment with attention to safety, quality assurance, communication and reporting
11. think critically about and evaluate projects, systems and processes, particularly when based on incomplete, contradictory and/or redundant information

The Master in Engineering Sciences has
12. a creative, problem-solving, result-driven and evidence-based attitude, aiming at innovation and applicability in industry and society
13. a critical attitude towards one’s own results and those of others

The Master in Electronics and Information Technology Engineering:
17. Has an active knowledge of the theory and applications of electronics, information and communication technology, from component up to system level.
18. Has a profound knowledge of either (i) nano- and opto-electronics and embedded systems, (ii) information and communication technology systems or (iii) measuring, modelling and control.
20. Is able to analyze, specify, design, implement, test and evaluate individual electronic devices, components and algorithms, for signal-processing, communication and complex systems.
21. Is able to model, simulate, measure and control electronic components and physical phenomena.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Other Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • oral exam with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

    Note: Important facts:
    + The presence of the candidate is mandatory at the defence of the project and the oral
    + Building the circuits for the project is mandatory
    + Presence is mandatory at the organized exercise sessions
    + The project has to be turned in by the date that was fixed, and was made public ad
    + If a project is turned in late, the rules are the same as for an absence.
    + It is the responsability of the student to make an appointment to defend the project
    and make the measurements. If no appointment is made, this is equivalent to an

Additional info regarding evaluation



  • Oral exam about theory : 50%
  • Realization of a practical design : 50%

Important facts about the evaluation

  • The presence of the candidate is mandatory at the defence of the project and the oral exam
  • Building,measuring and discussing the properties of the circuits designed for the project is mandatory
  • Presence is mandatory at the organized exercise sessions
  • If a project is not turned in before the exam, the rules are the same as for an absence
  • The student is reponsible to make an appointment to defend the project and make the measurements. If no appointment is made, this is equivalent to an absence
Allowed unsatisfactory mark
The supplementary Teaching and Examination Regulations of your faculty stipulate whether an allowed unsatisfactory mark for this programme unit is permitted.

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Master of Photonics Engineering: On campus traject
Master of Photonics Engineering: Online/Digital traject