Undergraduate Teaching 2023-24

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4B24: Radio Frequency Systems, 2023-24

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4B24: Radio Frequency Systems, 2023-24

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Module Leader

Dr M J Crisp


Dr M J Crisp

Timing and Structure

Lent term. 75% exam / 25% coursework


3B1 (Assumed)


The aims of the course are to:

  • Provide a system level overview of RF and Microwave, so that system performance can be predicted and optimised to meet a specification


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Be able to apply network analysis to an RF system
  • Understand the effects of noise, linearity and gain in cascaded RF systems
  • Be able to optimise impedance match of an amplifier as a tradeoff of noise, linearity, bandwidth and stability
  • Understand the operation of passive RF networks (Couplers, splitters, attenuators) and limits on their performance
  • Have a knowledge of range of methods to improve amplifier performance
  • Understand a range of RF system applications and their performance requriements


It is proposed that this module will focus on the system aspects of RF design (as opposed to circuits). Therefore the overall aim is that circuits (amplifiers etc) can be reduced to a blocks with a minimum number of parameters from which the system performance can be estimated.

Preliminary Syllabus

1. Network Analysis

  • 2-port and multi-port devices
  • Impedance, Scattering and Transmission parameters, their relationships and uses
  • Signal Flow Graphs
  • Two port power gains

2. Noise and Distortion

  • Noise sources in RF systems
  • Noise figure
  • Noise in passive networks
  • Noise of mismatched devices
  • Effects of Distortion
  • Measures of distortion and intermodulation
  • Dynamic range
  • Noise and distortion of cascaded devices

3. Impedance Matching Methods

  • Limits on achievable matches
  • Distributed Impedance matching methods
  • Broadband matching

4. Amplifier Design

  • Stability
  • Conjugate matching
  • Design for low noise
  • Design for high power and low distortion

5. RF System Architecture

  • Zero IF
  • Software Defined Radio

6. RF System Applications

  • Radar
  • Passive RFID
  • Radio regulations


Coursework Format

Due date

& marks

CAD Amplifier design

Using industry standard software, the performance of a microwave low noise amplifier will be investigated to maximize performance. 

A brief getting started demonstration will be given in lectures and a drop in session organised for software trouble shooting

Learning objective:

  • Familiarisation with microwave simulation capabilities
  • Design for an amplifier to meet specifications.



anonymously marked


Weds week 9 



Examination Guidelines

Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.

Last modified: 30/05/2023 15:26