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RFHIC Signs Deal to Acquire Element Six’s GaN on Diamond Epiwafer Technology

RFHIC Corp. of Anyang, South Korea, has signed a deal with Element Six (E6), a member of the De Beers Group of companies, to acquire its GaN on diamond technology. RFHIC says it plans to make its GaN on diamond technology widely available for applications such as radar, tactical radios, microwave heating, satellite communications, power supplies and wireless infrastructure (4G and 5G). The power density of GaN-on-diamond transistors is expected to be more than 3x higher than that of GaN on SiC.  

RFHIC has been investing in GaN technology since 2004, and it was the first fabless firm to use commercially available GaN foundry services. In 2008, RFHIC expanded its core competency from GaN on Si to GaN on SiC. The rate of adaptation has exploded as the cost of GaN-based solutions has become competitive compared to LDMOS and other legacy technologies, while the performance advantages are becoming clearer for industry demands, according to RFHIC. Applications of the technology include 4G LTE, next generation radar and communication systems. 

In 2016, RFHIC started to work with GaN on diamond technology.  With GaN’s ultimate performance limited by the thermal performance of the substrate material, RFHIC says it was clear that diamond could unlock opportunities beyond what Si and SiC can achieve.  RFHIC believes that GaN on diamond is the right technology to unleash the full capability of GaN.

Samuel Cho, RFHIC chairman and CTO, said: “We are very excited about the vast possibilities enabled by GaN on diamond technology. RFHIC expects that this technology will help us to provide a single transistor with RF power of up to 1 kW, depending on the frequency, significantly reducing combining loss, thus enabling true high power RF systems for a diverse range of applications. The obvious beneficial customers would be the radar makers, as the current market’s need is to replace tube-based transmitter with high power solid-state-based transmitter.  This GaN on diamond technology will certainly accelerate the transformation of the radar market, as well as revolutionize the semiconductor industry.  Furthermore, we expect the wireless infrastructure’s base station and small cell would become more energy efficient and reliable with simultaneously larger bandwidth. This improvement will enable the system's size to be substantially smaller, reducing the operator's biggest operating cost of space rental. RFHIC will work closely with Element Six and foundry partners for the capability of manufacturing 10,000 6-in GaN on diamond wafers per year in the foreseeable future.  RFHIC’s technology roadmap is to introduce GaN on diamond-based solutions covering up to 40 GHz by the end of 2018.”

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