Millimeter wave (mmWave) is a special class of radar technology that uses short-wavelength electromagnetic waves. Radar systems transmit electromagnetic wave signals that objects in their path then reflect. By capturing the reflected signal, a radar system can determine the range, velocity and angle of the objects.
mmWave radars transmit signals with a wavelength that is in the millimeter range. This is considered a short wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum and is one of the advantages of this technology. Indeed, the size of system components such as the antennas required to process mmWave signals is small.
Another advantage of short wavelengths is the high accuracy. An mmWave system operating at 76–81 GHz (with a corresponding wavelength of about 4 mm), will have the ability to detect movements that are as small as a fraction of a millimeter.
A complete mmWave radar system includes transmit (TX) and receive (RX) radio frequency (RF) components; analog components such as clocking; and digital components such as analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), microcontrollers (MCUs) and digital signal processors (DSPs). Traditionally, these systems were implemented with discrete components, which increased power consumption and overall system cost. System design is challenging due the complexity and high frequencies.
Texas Instruments implements a special class of mmWave technology called frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW). As the name implies, FMCW radars transmit a frequency-modulated signal continuously in order to measure range as well as angle and velocity. This differs from traditional pulsed-radar systems, which transmit short pulses periodically. They are an ideal solution for low-power,self-monitored, ultra-accurate radar systems in the automotive space.
To learn the fundamentals of mmWave Sensors, download the attached pdf on The Fundamentals of mmWave Sensors.