Power Components

GaN Microelectronics for Next-Gen Military and Communications Systems

BAE Systems has signed a cooperative agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for Phase 1 of a technical effort to transition GaN semiconductor technology developed by the U.S. Air Force to BAE’s Advanced Microwave Products (AMP) Center.

“We’ve signed a cooperative agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for Phase 1 of a technical effort to transition gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology developed by the U.S. Air Force to our Advanced Microwave Products (AMP) Center,” said Scott Sweetland, Advanced Microwave Products director at BAE Systems.

“As part of the effort, we’ll transfer and further enhance the technology, and scale it to 6-inch wafers to slash per-chip costs and improve the accessibility of this defense-critical technology,” Sweetland continued.

GaN technology provides broad frequency bandwidth, high efficiency, and high transmit power in a small footprint, making it ideal for next-generation radar, electronic warfare, and communications systems. Under the agreement, BAE will work with AFRL to establish a 140-nanometer GaN monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) process that will be qualified for production by 2020, with products available to Department of Defense (DoD) suppliers through an open foundry service.

“Millimeter-wave GaN technologies today are produced in research and development laboratories in low volumes at high associated costs or in captive foundries that are not broadly accessible to defense suppliers,” observed Sweetland.

“This effort will leverage AFRL’s high-performance technology and BAE Systems’ 6-inch manufacturing capability to advance the state of the art in GaN MMIC performance, reliability, and affordability while providing broader access to this critical technology,” Sweetland concluded.

The work on this project will primarily take place in BAE’s 70,000-square-foot Microelectronics Center (MEC) in Nashua, New Hampshire, where the company researches, develops, and produces compound semiconductor materials, devices, circuits, and modules for a wide range of microwave and millimeter-wave applications. The MEC has been an accredited DoD Category 1A Trusted Supplier since 2008, and fabricates integrated circuits in production quantities for critical DoD programs.

As part of the project, the AMP Center team will work closely with the company’s FAST Labs™ research organization and MMIC design experts from ENGIN-IC.

BAE Systems Ltd.
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