RFMD, a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance radio frequency solutions, announced it has signed a $9.7 million agreement with the Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies Directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to transfer and produce a 0.14 micron Gallium Nitride (GaN) monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) technology. The technology will be scaled to 6-inch diameter wafers using RFMD's industry-leading 6-inch GaN-on-Silicon Carbide (SiC) manufacturing line.
"Through this Air Force contract we have the opportunity to establish the industry's first 6-inch millimeter wave GaN-on-SiC process technology, allowing RFMD to expand our technology capabilities beyond 100GHz," said Gorden Cook, general manager of RFMD Power Broadband. "We expect this new technology will not only enable a new class of affordable power MMICs for defense applications such as radar and military communications, but also commercial applications including cable TV networking, microwave backhaul and cellular infrastructure."
According to industry analyst firm Strategy Analytics, the GaN microelectronics market is expected to more than triple to $334 million by 2017, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28%. This market growth is led by growth in both military (radar, electronic warfare, communications) and commercial (power management, cellular, CATV, land mobile radios) applications.
"AFRL has a distinguished history of developing high performance technologies with an understanding of underlying physics that drive reliability," added Cook. "RFMD plans to leverage AFRL's experience to offer reliable, 0.14 micron gate GaN power technology for mass production in our US-based, open foundry."
GaN technology supports broad frequency bandwidths and high breakdown voltages in a small area. RFMD's 6-inch GaN wafer offers 2.5-times more useable area over competing 4-inch GaN wafer platforms currently available, resulting in 2.5 times more RF power devices per wafer. Millimeter wave GaN enables the best trade-off between key performance parameters such as power gain, bandwidth and efficiency for applications in the range of DC to over 100GHz.