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30 July 2019

Transphorm awarded $15.9m extension to $2.6m base ONR contract to establish US source of GaN epi

Transphorm Inc of Goleta, near Santa Barbara, CA, USA — which designs and manufactures JEDEC- and AEC-Q101-qualified high-voltage (HV) gallium nitride (GaN) field-effect transistors (FETs) for high-voltage (HV) power conversion applications — says that the US Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Naval Research (ONR) has exercised a three-year $15.9m option on an existing $2.6m base contract with the company. This contract (N68335-19-C-0107) - administered by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (NAWCAD Lakehurst) - establishes Transphorm as a US-based dedicated production source and supplier of GaN epiwafers for DoD and Commercial radio frequency (RF)/millimetre-wave (mm-wave) and power electronics applications. The award comprises a Base Program for key technology development and an Option Program to establish production-scale capability.

The program’s core objective is to go beyond the incumbent Ga-polar GaN technology by commercializing nitrogen-polar (N-polar) GaN, which holds significant promise for the continued advancement of GaN-based electronics, in both existing RF electronics and future power conversion systems. The technology was invented under ONR and DARPA sponsorship at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) by the team of Umesh Mishra, Distinguished Professor at UCSB and Transphorm’s co-founder, chief technical officer & chairman.

“The N-polar orientation of the material is reversed from the traditional Ga-polar GaN currently being widely used in base-station and DoD applications,” says Mishra. “The flip produces radical benefits in output power, along with groundbreaking efficiencies to frequencies as high as 94GHz,” he adds. “Applications span the frequency range of interest for 5G, 6G and beyond, and also fill a critical technological void for DoD systems.”

At 94GHz, Mishra’s UCSB team has demonstrated mm-wave devices with record power densities and high efficiencies. These devices simplify RF electronic systems by reducing the need for power combining multiple components and devices, while also simplifying cooling systems, ultimately resulting in higher performance at reduced cost.

As supplier of high-quality, high-reliability (Q+R) HV GaN FETs (currently in production with several customers), Transphorm has a vertically integrated business approach (spanning design, fabrication, device and application support), expertise, IP and a production-scale MOCVD epi growth platform. With this ONR program, it will address epi capability on multiple platforms, including silicon carbide (SiC), silicon and sapphire substrates ranging from 4-inch to 6-inch and ultimately 8-inch wafers. In the RF and mm-wave area, Transphorm will be a pure-play epiwafer supplier focused solely on GaN materials.

“We are excited to partner with the ONR and DoD to commercialize our high-performance GaN HEMT IP and epitaxy capability, specifically via the breakthrough N-polar and Ga-polar materials on various substrates, including silicon carbide, sapphire, and silicon,” says co-founder & chief operating officer Primit Parikh. “This enables Transphorm to grow an adjacent vertical, that of epiwafer sales for DoD customers and fast-growing RF/5G markets,” he adds. “We are already seeing demand and are excited to go from purchase to production in less than 36 months, a key program goal.”

Transphorm says that, as with all its GaN products, the epiwafer offerings will be backed by: rapid development; production scalability; uniform, high-yielding wafer products; and statistical process control (SPC) manufacturing.

Design resources and support includes: Ga-polar and N-polar GaN baseline processes on multiple substrates of various diameters; a comprehensive suite of GaN epiwafer characterization equipment; and MOCVD experts to align on specific customer requirements.

Tags: Transphorm GaN-on-Si GaN HEMT Power electronics

Visit: www.transphormusa.com

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