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1 July 2014

MANGA project helps to establish independent European supply chain for GaN technologies

Under the leadership of the European Defence Agency (EDA), the multi-national R&D project MANGA (Manufacturable GaN-SiC-substrates and GaN epitaxial wafers supply chain) says that it has succeeded in implementing a supply chain for the realization of power electronics components based on gallium nitride within Europe.

With the aim of optimizing development and manufacturing techniques for power electronics based on gallium nitride (GaN), research institutions, universities and defence-focused industry partners in five European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and the UK) have worked together over the past four years to produce high-quality GaN-based electronic devices in Europe, without relying on international suppliers. Due to the high efficiency and robustness of the semiconductor, GaN-based power electronic components have already replaced established technologies, mainly in the fields of radar and broadband amplifiers.

With respect to the increasing application of the efficient components in electronic defense and combat systems, the European defence industry is facing increasing demand for the reliable supply of power electronic components. The technology is critical and will provide key enabling capabilities to a broad spectrum of defense applications, reaching from advanced radar and communication antennas to electronic warfare.

Independent supply chain in Europe

To facilitate independent production of GaN-based electronic devices for military applications, it is necessary to implement the entire supply chain within Europe, say the project partners – reaching from the availability of silicon carbide (SiC) substrates for the epitaxial growth of GaN, to the industrial manufacturing of high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs). In the scope of the project, GaN-based transistor layers were grown epitaxially on newly developed high-quality SiC-substrates. Applying established foundry processing, these transistor layers were used to produce fully European HEMTs. Both the quality of the SiC-substrates and the performance of the HEMT are comparable to equivalent benchmark-setting components produced in the USA, it is said.

Systems with increased reliability

In future projects, it will remain the goal of the EDA to further reduce the European defense industry’s dependence on international trade regulations. After having realized independent development and production of state-of-the-art transistors suitable for military applications, the project partners want to focus on improving the reliability and material quality of the transistors. Results from universities participating in the MANGA project, where scientists studied the impact of variations in layer structures on the devices’ performance, will help to further optimize the HEMT technology. In a follow-on project, the project partners want to achieve qualification of an industrial European epiwafer supplier for HEMT structures.

Tags:  GaN HEMT

Visit: www.eda.europa.eu

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