GaN Power Amplifier Technology
Infusing GaN Power Amplifier Technology into Microwave System Design
Numerous components in all microwave systems have continuously evolved and are now being optimized for specific applications. Both military and commercial configurations can benefit from improvements in:
► Increased Sensitivity
► Reduced Size & Weight
► Higher Efficiency
► Reduced Cost
► System Power Efficiency
Improvements in these areas can spring from either the system designer or from breakthroughs at the component level.
Tracing their history back to Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) investments in the mid 2000s, the latest generation of GaN-based semiconductors available to component manufacturers, points the way to many next-generation systems including radar, communication and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
With 5 to 10 times the power handling capability, a GaN device can handle twice the voltage and current of a comparable GaAs device. Likewise, with nearly 7 times the thermal conductivity of GaAs, GaN components can operate at a much higher temperature.
Capitalizing on these physical attributes CTT’s GaN-based amplifiers are designed to provide, for example, considerably more power than a GaAs or Silicon-based system while at the same time occupying a much smaller volume.
CTT engineers have developed a proprietary open architecture/common platform GaN-based power amplifier family, which relies on advanced coupler design and unique substrate material selection. The result is a selection of adaptable, modular amplifiers requiring only a single supply voltage.
These innovative new designs lend themselves to a variety of amplification functions in many current and future commercial and military systems. Additionally, whenever legacy systems are upgraded, whether to address new requirements or to benefit from improved technology, you can count on CTT’s thirty years of experience in microwave amplification and subsystem integration.
CTT offers not only form, fit, function of microwave amplifier replacements for many mature systems, but also incorporates leading-edge technology components.
Multipurpose, Flexible, Universal, and Scalable Designs
Only a few decades ago, military requirements and developments were a primary driving force of the microwave equipment market. With the emergence and explosion of the commercial communications market, military requirements now constitute a much smaller market share.
Since both commercial and military equipment share the same spectrum, they are bounded by physics and thereby share electrical characteristics. (DARPA-BAA-15-24, Shared Spectrum Access for Radar and Communications)
Fundamental to the differences is the commercial world’s established, well-maintained infrastructure. Military microwave, on the other hand, frequently operates without infrastructure in complex electromagnetic environments. This includes hostile temperatures, shock and vibration.
These tactical issues are different enough from commercial environments to warrant additional design and manufacturing considerations. The key issues being:
• Temperature operating ranges
• Tolerance to moisture
• Tolerance to vibration
• Tolerance to high altitude environments
• Tolerance to G-forces
• Cycle life
Commercially derived designs, technology and processes, commonly referred to as Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS), can be successfully applied to these military systems requirements, potentially increasing overall system performance. The advantages of this approach are readily understood. Commercial electronic designs are often more advanced than what is currently available within the military sector.
Taking these factors into consideration, CTT’s latest evolution of GaN and GaAs microwave amplifier designs are truly “Dual Use.” The difference between commercial and military applications is being addressed by insertion of military grade components into basic design layouts, subject to the appropriate Mil-Standard screening procedures.
Moreover, a single CTT amplifier design, due to it’s wideband performance envelope, is often suitable for diverse applications (i.e.: from radar, to instrumentation, to commercial communications). CTT’s design philosophy offers the customer military or commercial significant benefits by:
• Mitigating risk with proven technology
• Reducing time-to-market
• Reducing overall system cost