All advantages of using gallium in radio frequency applications


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Gallium nitride (GaN) is a wide bandgap material that provides important advantages in high power radio frequency (GaN) applications. Compared to conventional semiconductors (such as silicon), gallium nitride has some very important physical and electrical properties, including: high breakdown voltage; High power density high switching and operating frequency; High efficiency; Excellent thermal conductivity. Compared to traditional technologies, gallium nitride has proven to be a superior material for many applications in the radio frequency field, where reliability, efficiency and low absorption are the primary requirements. During the manufacturing process, gallium nitride is typically grown, at temperatures in excess of 1000 ° C, on a substrate consisting of silicon carbide (SiC) in the case of radiofrequency applications, or of ordinary silicon in the case of energy applications. The technology based on GaN-on-SiC is by far the most widely used, because it combines the high energy density of gallium nitride with the low energy loss of silicon carbide, and because it solves the problems related to thermal management and parasitic losses. Although GaN-on-Si technology is lower in cost, it has worse thermal performance and higher RF signal power losses. RF applications for GaN Although gallium nitride is often associated with traditional RF applications, such as power amplifiers (PA), there are several other important applications for this innovative material. The ever-increasing levels of power and efficiency these devices achieve make them attractive, especially in applications in the space sector and the military sector (especially for military radars). The durability, excellent thermal performance, weight and low dimensions allow this material to be a better choice over other types of competing technologies even in low frequency RF applications. In military radars, when operating at different gigahertz frequency ranges, gallium nitride has proven to be the ideal solution for making solid-state transmitters, replacing the old technology based on klystron tubes. The latest generation of military radars, which operate with Scanned Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESAs) and Phase Array Units, will greatly benefit from the availability of GaN-on-SiC-based homogeneous microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). The applications of GaN technology are not limited to the military space and radar sector. In the field of telecommunications, with cell phones in particular, these materials are used to create various innovative solutions, such as those that support 5G technology. Gallium nitride-based components are gradually replacing traditional silicon-based components in specific applications such as radio frequency amplifiers and phased antenna arrays. GaN’s superior properties prove to be ideal for efficient management of both the 6 GHz sub-band and the range over 20 GHz (millimeter waves or millimeter waves). To meet the stringent requirements of 5G (fast data rate, wide bandwidth and low latency), innovative technologies such as GaN, which are able to operate at high frequencies (28 GHz and 39 GHz), are needed, as they reduce the size of the receiving antennas as much as possible. GaN RF Devices Wolfspeed has a wide range of GaN based power devices, such as CMPA2735075F, 75-W, 2.7 – 3.5-GHz, GaN MMIC Power Amplifier. The device, shown in Figure 1, is a monolithic microwave integrated circuit based on gallium nitride (GaN) (MMIC). Due to superior properties of GaN compared to silicon or gallium arsenide, including high breakdown voltage, high saturated electron drift velocity, and high thermal conductivity, the device is particularly suitable for civilian and military S-band pulsed radar amplifiers (2.0 – 4.0 GHz). GaN HEMTs also provide greater power density and wider bandwidth compared to Si and GaAs transistors. This MMIC has an interactive two-stage mirroring amplifier design approach that enables the realization of very wide frequency bands. This MMIC enables ultra-wide bandwidths in a compact, screw-down package. Figure 1: Wolfspeed CMPA2735075F, suitable for S-band radar applications, MACOM, the leader in the design and manufacture of semiconductor devices for telecommunications, data centers, and industrial and defense applications, has a wide range of RF power products. An example of this is the MAGx-011086, a general purpose silicon carbide HEMT amplifier optimized for DC – 6GHz operation in an easy-to-use package that is ideal for high-bandwidth applications. The device is designed for saturated linear operation with 4W (36dBm) output power levels in an industrial standard surface-mount QFN package. The beam pads form a planar release that naturally absorbs lead parasites and features a small PCB outline for space-limited applications. Using the latest in chip manufacturing processes, MAGx transistors deliver high gain, efficiency, bandwidth, and rigidity across a wide bandwidth for today’s demanding applications such as pulsed avionics and radar applications. Qorvo, a semiconductor company that specializes in radio frequency systems, has a proven track record of providing power amplifier (PA) solutions across several frequency and power levels. The TGA2312-FL, shown in Figure 2, is a high-powered amplifier that operates between 9 and 10 GHz and typically provides 48 dBm of saturated output power, 38% added power efficiency and a small 13 dB signal gain. The TGA2312-FL is ideally suited to marine and weather radars, and is packaged in a CuW base flanged package for superior thermal management. The TGA2312-FL uses Qorvo 0.25um GaN technology over SiC, which provides superior performance while maintaining high reliability. Additionally, the use of SiC substrates provides the optimum thermal performance necessary for reliable high-power operation. Figure 2: Qorvo TGA2312-FL, PA is suitable for civil commercial and radar systems.


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