ECE 3604 Introduction to RF & Microwave Engineering | ECE | Virginia Tech

Undergraduate PROGRAMS

Course Information


Introduction to circuits, devices, and systems for radio frequency (RF) and microwave applications. Fundamentals of antennas, propagation, small signal and power amplifiers, frequency conversion, and frequency synthesis. Tools and concepts including s-parameters, design impedance matching, dynamic range, noise figure, and link budget.

Why take this course?

This course introduces students to the broad area of RF & microwave engineering. Students learn the basic concepts and skills typically expected of a well-qualified entry-level engineer in the RF & microwave field. This set of skills and concepts is not now addressed in any other single course in the electrical engineering curriculum. Another purpose of this course is to inform selection of senior-year technical electives. In some cases this course may be a prerequisite for those courses.


A grade of C- or better in prerequisites. Pre: 2204, 3105 (3H, 3C).

In 2204, students are taught basic concepts in modern circuit design, including the use of transistors as amplifiers. In 3105, students are taught the use of transmission lines as impedance matching structures. Familiarity with these concepts is both required and assumed of students entering 3604. Therefore a grade of C- or better in 2204 and 3105 is required.

Major Measurable Learning Objectives

  • Analyze an RF system using a link budget, accounting for characteristics of the antenna, transmitter, receiver, and propagation.
  • Design impedance matching circuits suitable for RF & microwave applications.
  • Analyze a linear small-signal amplifier using s-parameter concepts to determine gain and stability.
  • Analyze common oscillator and synthesizer circuits to determine frequency and characterize spectral purity.
  • Describe power amplifier classes and their applications, advantages, and disadvantages.

Course Topics


Percentage of Course

Fundamentals of antennas & propagation 5%
Noise concepts 10%
Friis equation & link budgets 10%
s-parameters and characterization of RF two-port devices 10%
Design impedance matching for RF & microwave applications 15%
Linear small-signal amplifiers (method of operation & analysis) 15%
Linearity, sensitivity, and dynamic range 10%
Frequency conversion & mixers 5%
Frequency synthesis (oscillators & synthesizers) 10%
Power amplifiers (method of operation, classes, applications) 10%