GaN-on-SiC for satellite beam steering antennas

March 30, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
GaN-on-SiC for satellite beam steering antennas
The Kasseopia project is developing high-efficiency Ka-band GaN MMICs using GaN-on-SiC substrates

A European project is building a high efficiency antenna receiver for space systems using gallium nitride on a silicon carbide substrate.

The Kassiopeia project brings together the University of Bristol in the UK, Ferdinand-Braun-Institut (FBH) in Germany and SweGaN in Sweden to develop a Ka-band MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit) receiver.

The MMIC uses SweGaN’s QuanFINE GaN-on-SiC epitaxial materials to help boost the device efficiency for beam steering antennas for satellite communications, 5G base stations as well as radar applications.

The project is led and coordinated by FBH to develop and demonstrate Ka-band MMICs using novel epitaxy, processing, and circuit concepts towards highly efficient GaN and AlN devices. FBH is using its Iridium sputter-gate technology which cuts dynamic losses (gate lagging) by half boosting device reliability which are particularly important for space borne devices. Additionally, FBH has one of the best equipped labs in Europe.

SweGaN is contributing its buffer-free solution for GaN-on-SiC epiwafers, QuanFINE, and brings its expertise in epitaxial layer design and optimization for the project. SweGaN will also supply in-house developed semi-insulating SiC substrates for evaluation. The epiwafer specialist currently provides epitaxial material to leading manufacturers of components and devices for satellite communication, telecom, and defense applications, plus power electronic for electric vehicles, solar inverters and more.

"We are excited to partner in this ESA-aligned project with the prestigious GaN research groups in Europe, FBH and Uni. of Bristol,” said Jr-Tai Chen, CTO of SweGaN. “SweGaN will bring its proprietary QuanFINE buffer-free manufacturing process for GaN-on-SiC epiwafers to significantly boost innovation at the material level for Ka band devices.”

”Harnessing our combined expertise, the strategic development project will further enhance SweGaN’s long-term market strategy and product innovation - and provide significant benefits to our global customer base,” said Dr Chen.

“We are excited to collaborate with SweGaN and FBH to understand, optimize and exploit the improved thermal management potential of the buffer free GaN-on-SiC for transistor applications, and to apply our unique expertise in assessing thermal transport in semiconductor devices” said Professor Martin Kuball, Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies at the University of Bristol. The University of Bristol’s research is specialized in direct thermal measurements on active GaN transistors by using micro-Raman thermography and advanced devices characterizations and modeling.;;

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