Military Embedded Systems

Program aims to speed maturation of GaN IC technology


November 29, 2018

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Program aims to speed maturation of GaN IC technology
Top row L-R: Florian Herrault (HRL), Ignacio Ramos (HRL), Mauricio Pinto (University of Colorado Boulder), Chip Moyer (HRL), Hasan Sharifi (HRL), Dan Denninghoff (HRL), Andrea Corrion (HRL), Paul Watson (AFRL), Donald Lie (Texas Tech University). Bottom r

MALIBU, Calif. HRL Laboratories has reported progress on its project with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that aims to to significantly advance the technology and manufacturing readiness levels of its leading-edge millimeter-wave (mm-wave) T3 gallium nitride (GaN) electronics.

Engineers at HRL Laboratories -- which is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by Boeing and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics -- say that integrated circuits (ICs) made by layering GaN onto silicon carbide substrate wafers offer the best combination of efficiency, output power, and survivability among radio frequency (RF) and mm-wave semiconductor technologies, making the GaN devices and monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) key components for next-generation radars, electronic warfare systems, and communications systems.

As part of the HRL Laboratories/DARPA program, engineers from HRL’s Sensors and Electronics Laboratory conducted a workshop recently to work with circuit designers from academic institutions and government laboratories on HRL’s T3 GaN MMIC technology process design kit.

Dr. Dan Denninghoff of HRL, who led the workshop, said, “DARPA’s funding to support the maturing of HRL’s T3 GaN technology emphasizes the ongoing need for access to our foundry. We are pleased with the overwhelming interest and participation from our academic, government, and commercial partners in HRL’s GaN technologies. These designers will be devising a wide range of MMICs for government projects that will be fabricated on multiproject wafers as part of this program.”

“Until now, long cycle times and low technology maturity levels prevented adoption of HRL’s GaN electronics into military platforms,” said Dr. Florian Herrault, who heads HRL’s mm-wave GaN maturation program. “This program will reduce the gap between our laboratory demonstrations of the world’s fastest GaN devices and real-world applications. With DARPA’s support we will seek to reduce process variations and decrease fabrication cycle time to constantly meet defense performance standards. The government needs access to an open foundry with mature and advanced GaN production processes. With our foundry, housed within our Microfabrication Technologies Laboratory, we’re intending to become one of the major suppliers of high-performance mm-wave GaN components.”



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3011 Malibu Canyon Road
Malibu, CA 90265