Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor


Committee Chair


Committee Member 1


Committee Member 2


Committee Member 3



As wireless devices continue to increase in utility while decreasing in dimension, design of the RF front-end becomes more complex. It is common for a single handheld device to operate on a plethora of frequency bands, utilize multiple antennae, and be subjected to a variety of environments. One complexity in particular which arises from these factors is that of impedance mismatch. Recently, tunable impedance matching networks have begun to be implemented to address this problem. ^ This dissertation presents the first in-depth study on the frequency tuning range of tunable impedance matching networks. Both the fundamental limitations of ideal networks as well as practical considerations for design and implementation are addressed. Specifically, distributed matching networks with a single tuning element are investigated for use with parallel resistor-capacitor and series resistor-inductor loads. ^ Analytical formulas are developed to directly calculate the frequency tuning range TR of ideal topologies. The theoretical limit of TR for these topologies is presented and discussed. Additional formulas are developed which address limitations in transmission line characteristic impedance and varactor range. Equations to predict loss due to varactor quality factor are demonstrated and the ability of parasitics to both increase and decrease TR are shown. Measured results exemplify i) the potential to develop matching networks with a small impact from parasitics, ii) the need for accurate knowledge of parasitics when designing near transition points in optimal parameters, iii) the importance of using a transmission line with the right characteristic impedance, and iv) the ability to achieve extremely low loss at the design frequency with a lossy varactor under the right conditions (measured loss of -0.07 dB). ^ In the area of application, tunable matching networks are designed and measured for mobile handset antennas, demonstrating up to a 3 dB improvement in power delivered to a planar inverted-F antenna and up to 4–5.6 dB improvement in power delivered to the iPhone™ antenna. Additionally, a single-varactor matching network is measured to achieve greater tuning range than a two-varactor matching network (> 824–960 MHz versus 850–915 MHz) and yield higher power handling. Addressing miniaturization, an accurate model of metal loss in planar integrated inductors for low-loss substrates is developed and demonstrated. ^ Finally, immediate future research directions are suggested: i) expanding the topologies, tuning elements, and loads analyzed; ii) performing a deep study into parasitics; and iii) investigating power handling with various varactor technologies.