Transphorm to make new type of gallium nitride epi wafers in the US

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The deal for N-polar GaN with the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) aims to produce the first commercialised nitrogen polar GaN for power that can be built on various substrates including silicon carbide as well as for RF designs. 

The three-year, $15.9m project is an option on an existing $2.6 million base contract. The nitrogen polar N-polar GaN was developed at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) by a team led by Professor Umesh Mishra, Distinguished Professor at UCSB and Transphorm’s Co-founder, CTO and Chairman, and backed by the ONR and the US DARPA research agency. 

“The N-polar GaN orientation of the material is reversed from the traditional Ga-polar GaN currently being widely used in base station and DoD applications. The flip produces radical benefits in output power, along with groundbreaking efficiencies to frequencies as high as 94 GHz,” said Dr. Mishra. “Applications span the frequency range of interest for 5G, 6G and beyond, and also fill a critical technological void for DoD systems.”

At 94 GHz, Mishra’s UCSB team has demonstrated mm-wave devices with record power densities and high efficiencies. These devices simplify RF electronic systems by reducing the need for power combining multiple components and devices, while also simplifying cooling systems, ultimately resulting in higher performance at reduced cost.

Transphorm is in production of high reliability HV GaN FETs using its own MOCVD epi growth platform with production scale. With this ONR program, the company will address epi capability on multiple platforms, including SiC, Si, and Sapphire substrates ranging from 4-inch to 6-inch and ultimately 8-inch wafers. The project includes a comprehensive suite of GaN epiwafer characterization equipment and the company has MOCVD experts to adjust the process for specific customer requirements.

“We are excited to partner with the ONR and DoD to commercialize our high performance GaN HEMT IP and epitaxy capability, specifically via the breakthrough N-polar and Ga-polar materials on various substrates, including Silicon Carbide, Sapphire, and Silicon,” said Primit Parikh, Co-founder and COO of Transphorm. “This enables Transphorm to grow an adjacent vertical, that of epiwafer sales for DoD customers and fast-growing RF/5G markets. We are already seeing demand and are excited to go from purchase to production in less than 36 months, a key program goal.”

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