Tusk IC: the millimeter wave chips spin-off from KU Leuven

Tusk IC, the latest spin-off from KU Leuven develops chips for millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies. These chips are essential for the new generation of radars for self-driving cars and for the new 5G standard and its ultra-fast data communication.

by Tusk IC

Tusk IC is founded by four electrical engineers, who obtained their PhD from KU Leuven in the ESAT-MICAS research group. The company receives investments in the form of technology IP and capital from KU Leuven and the Gemma Frisius Fund. The company is located in Antwerp.

The time is ripe to make mmWave silicon chips available for the semiconductor industry.


The miniaturization of silicon ICs (integrated circuits) ensures that very high frequencies can be processed in very compact, affordable chips. This makes a whole range of new applications possible. The most important markets for Tusk IC are the automotive industry (radars for self-driving cars), telecom (5G, wireless HDMI and VR) and industrial quality control. During their PhD, the founders specialized in the design of millimeter wave and terahertz chips in silicon technologies such as CMOS and SiGe.

Tusk IC 2
A Push-Pull Complementary mm-Wave Power Amplifier with <0.8 degree AM-PM Distortion in 40nm CMOS

According to CEO Wouter Steyaert, the interest and reactions are very positive: “With Tusk IC we fill a void in the current electronics landscape. There is a lot of interest in the development of mmWave chips for 5G and autonomous vehicles, but few engineers have concrete experience with it. Our complementary team has pioneered these frequencies during the research at KU Leuven. With Tusk IC we offer this knowledge and experience to both established multinationals and emerging companies in the mmWave market.”

Semiconductor industry

Professor Patrick Reynaert (ESAT-MICAS, Department of Electrical Engineering) explains: “About 10 years ago, my team at KU Leuven started researching mmWave silicon chips. We developed the building blocks for 28 GHz to 600 GHz, used for 5G and radar. My research group has set up a reliable methodology, which offers an answer to the many challenges that come with these high frequencies. This has led to mmWave circuits whose measured results are closely related to the simulations. In my view, the time is now ripe to make this expertise available for the semiconductor industry. ”

With the advent of autonomous vehicles and 5G, the demand for mmWave chips will only increase. Tusk IC is determined to be the go-to company for mmWave IC design.