In 1960 the Microwave Laboratory (Mikrowellenlabor) was founded by Professor Georg Epprecht. He applied and developed what was known to be the most advanced computer-based miniaturization and integration of microwave circuits.
Primary research projects focused on
- Broadband receivers based on parametric amplifiers for radio astronomy (observation of the sun)
- Design and technology of Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) filters
- Electronic learning
Professor Epprecht initiated "Electronic Learning" at the Department of Electrical Engineering long before general recognition of the subject and before the computer age. He automated courses on fundamental electrical engineering on the basis of slide projectors and tape recorders.
Prof. Heinrich Baggenstos and his group, formerly part of the Laboratory for Electronics, joined the Microwave Laboratory in 1985. The new Lab was renamed as "Institut für Feldtheorie und Höchstfrequenztechnik (IFH)" (Laboratory for Field Theory and Microwave Technology). The research focus of the field theory group was on computational electromagnetics which was continued even after the retirement of Prof. Baggenstos in 1996.
In 1987 Prof. Epprecht retired and Prof. Werner Bächtold joined the laboratory and founded the Microwave Electronics Group with the research and teaching subjects:
- Design and characterization of microwave integrated circuits based on gallium arsenide and advanced silicon foundry technologies for mobile communications applications
- Design, technology and characterization of devices and circuits for mm-wave applications based on indium phosphide HEMT (High Electron Mobility Transistor) technology
- Design and technology of integrated optics and optoelectronics
- Measurement technique and microwave systems
Prof. Bächtold taught various courses such as transmission lines and filters, high frequency technology and high frequency and microwave electronics.
In the 1987 – 2006 period 47 Ph.D. students earned their degree in microwave technology and optics. Prof. Bächtold retired in 2006.
Prof. Rüdiger Vahldieck joined ETH as Professor for Electromagnetic Fields in 1996. From 2003 until his death in 2011 he was head of the renamed Institute of Electromagnetic Fields and Microwave Electronics. From 2005-2008 he served also as head of the Department for Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.
In 2006 Prof. Colombo Bolognesi joined the Laboratory. In 2010 he formed his own independent Millimeter-Wave Electronics Group (MWE) but still shares part of the infrastructure with the Lab.
After the sudden death of Prof. Vahldieck the Institute continued its research and teaching activities under the intermediate leadership of Prof. Christian Hafner.
Since March 2013 Prof. Jürg Leuthold is a full professor for photonics and communication. He took over the former IFH in 2014 and initiated new research activities in optical high speed communications and related technologies. The new name "Institute of Electromagnetic Fields (IEF)" expresses the wide range of activities.