19 March 2018
HRL to develop ultra-linear GaN transistors for mm-wave devices as part of DARPA’s DREaM program
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
HRL Laboratories LLC of Malibu, CA, USA has received an award from the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) to develop the next generation of gallium nitride (GaN) transistors with much improved linearity and noise figure at reduced power consumption for use in electronic devices that manage the electromagnetic spectrum from radio communications to radar.
With the Dynamic Range-enhanced Electronics and Materials (DREaM) program, DARPA is seeking new designs and materials for radio-frequency transistors with breakthrough dynamic range in millimeter-wave (mm-wave) systems. HRL’s role is to develop ultra-linear GaN transistors working in mm-wave frequencies that enable transmission and reception without distortion across the spectrum. The transistors will enable secure ultra-wideband communications with higher data rates, while reducing their draw on the prime power source of their eventual platforms, such as ships or aircraft.
“For this project we will research novel materials and devices to develop ultra-linear GaN transistors with manufacturability,” says Jeong-sun Moon, HRL Labs’ principal investigator on the DREaM program. Joining Moon on the HRL Laboratories team are Joel Wong and Andrea Corrion. “Our goal is to break the historic gap of the 10dB rule of thumb in semiconductor transistor’s linearity figure-of-merit - which is linearity divided by DC power consumption - by 100 times,” adds Moon. “Spectrally pure linear amplification requires prime power consumption, so the power saving enabled by this improvement will be huge, while meeting the demand of modern communications for wider bandwidths and higher data rates, including 5G wireless communication.”