TriQuint Semiconductor, a leading RF products manufacturer and foundry services provider, announced that it has been awarded a Defense Production Act Title III gallium nitride (GaN) manufacturing development contract by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The overall goal of the contract is to increase yield, lower costs and improve time-to-market cycles for defense and commercial GaN integrated circuits. The contract was awarded based on TriQuint’s success and experience developing new gallium nitride technologies and products.

TriQuint’s new GaN contract is divided into three phases with goals and assessment criteria at each milestone. The primary first phase goal is to make a baseline assessment of manufacturing readiness, according to TriQuint Vice President Tom Cordner. In the second program phase, TriQuint will work to improve and refine the production process to reach a manufacturing readiness level (MRL) of 8 in developing its advanced MMICs. In the final phase, which is expected to conclude in 2013, the program will demonstrate MMIC fabrication that meets full performance, cost and capacity goals. TriQuint is the prime contractor and all the work is to be performed at its Richardson, TX facility.

TriQuint has been a leader in GaN research and product development for both defense and civilian applications since 1999. In addition to its military design and manufacturing work, TriQuint has released new GaN amplifiers for wireless communications and a wide range of other applications over the last three years. TriQuint was the first to offer high frequency, high power commercial GaN foundry services (0.25 μm GaN on SiC) in 2008.

“TriQuint is very excited to participate in this program to accelerate gallium nitride manufacturing technology. This program will take the technology from the early stages of production to a mature manufacturing process enabling next-generation systems,” Cordner remarked. “We have successfully transferred process technologies into manufacturing at TriQuint for more than 25 years and we look forward to these new challenges and opportunities.”

Gallium nitride is a key process technology that is leading advanced semiconductor amplifier design thanks to inherent advantages, including high voltage operation, greater power density (more power per square millimeter) and efficiency. The on-going development of GaN-based devices is leading to new smaller, more efficient amplifiers that reduce system size, weight and power consumption.

TriQuint’s expertise in GaN, (GaAs)/high-voltage GaAs PHEMT, surface acoustic and bulk acoustic wave (SAW/BAW), low-cost packaged devices and monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMIC) has made it a leading supplier of RF system components to Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and other major defense contractors. TriQuint supplies RF innovation for consumer retail products including mobile devices, wireless LAN, triple-play CATV systems, optical network and wireless infrastructure applications.