Microwave Journal

TriQuint GaN Success Leads to Phase 3 DARPA R&D Contract

June 2, 2009

TriQuint Semiconductor, an RF products manufacturer and foundry services provider, announced that it has been awarded leadership of Phase III of a multi-year gallium nitride (GaN) research and development contract by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). The contract, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was awarded based on TriQuint surpassing Phase II goals. The overall program is designed to develop new high power, wideband GaN amplifiers for a range of defense applications.

TriQuint began execution of the Phase II gallium nitride program (valued at $15.8 M) in 2005 and has achieved major milestones including improved power density, efficiency and device ruggedness. The next phase of the program (valued at $16.5 M) seeks to extend device reliability for 48 V operation while increasing operational lifetime and extending performance to cover the high end of contracted frequency ranges. This phase is expected to be completed in two years. The ARL in Adelphi, MD, is the contracting agency (W911QX-05-C-0087).

TriQuint has been a leader in gallium nitride research for both defense and civilian applications since 1999. In addition to its military design and manufacturing work, TriQuint has released gallium nitride amplifiers for wireless communications and a wide range of other applications along with offering commercial GaN foundry services beginning in 2008.

“TriQuint is very excited to continue its leadership of a highly qualified team in the development of this technology. In Phase II, we developed a high performance, reliable gallium nitride process with excellent reproducibility and high yield,” said Cathy Lee, TriQuint’s Phase III program manager. “Since the program began we have achieved key milestones including 48 V operation and superb high frequency performance.”

Gallium nitride remains one of the key process technologies expected to lead next-generation amplifier semiconductor design due to its inherent properties including high voltage operation, greater power density (more power per square millimeter) and efficiency. The development of GaN-based devices is leading to new generations of smaller, more efficient amplifiers that reduce system size, weight and power consumption.

TriQuint is the prime Phase III contractor and is teamed with BAE Systems, IQE-RF Corp. and Lockheed Martin. II-VI Inc. remains the program’s primary supplier of high quality SiC substrates. University partners Michael Shur of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Jesus del Alamo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology continue their roles in device physics, reliability and modeling. Key program tasks include material optimization, device and MMIC development. The contract emphasizes reliability, yield, uniformity and reproducibility. The program also includes a MMIC validation process.