GaN-on-SiC epitaxial solutions designed for satellite antennas

29th March 2021
Lanna Deamer

SweGaN has announced it is partnering with Ferdinand-Braun-Institut (FBH) and University of Bristol in a European Space Agency project 'Kassiopeia' that includes a focus on SweGaN’s QuanFINE GaN-on-SiC epitaxial materials to help boost the device efficiency for Ka band applications.

The technology will be highly relevant for the devices used in beam steering antennas for satellite communications, 5G base stations as well as radar applications. 

With the ambition of continuously advancing space technology, the cooperation combines key European expertise to enable high efficiency and high performance Ka-band GaN MMICs (Monolithic microwave integrated circuits). The Kassopeia project, led and coordinated by FBH, is developing and demonstrating Ka-band MMICs using novel epitaxy, processing, and circuit concepts towards highly efficient GaN and AlN devices. The goal of the Kassiopeia initiative is harnessing technology to create a unique European offering, from the SiC substrates to GaN epi, to power amplifiers.

SweGaN is contributing its unique buffer-free solution for GaN-on-SiC epiwafers, QuanFINE, and brings its expertise in epitaxial layer design and optimisation for the project. SweGaN will also supply in-house developed semi-insulating SiC substrates for evaluation. The SweGaN activities are financially supported by Swedish National Space Agency (Rymdstyrelsen).

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, sharesSweGaN CTO, Jr-Tai Chen. 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,” continued Dr. Chen.

“We are excited to collaborate with SweGaN and FBH to understand, optimise 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.

Bringing together key European expertise, the selected consortium partners are internationally recognised in their niche fields and provide expert knowledge of their specific technology and characterisation techniques.

  • FBH's unique contribution is its Iridium sputter-gate technology which reduces dynamic losses (gate lagging) up to 2 times less than competing institutional and industrial technologies. The groundbreaking technology provides advantages in device reliability which are particularly important for space borne devices. Additionally, FBH has one of the best equipped labs in Europe.
  • SweGaN is recognised for providing GaN epitaxial wafers for Sub-6GHz and mm-wave transistors with a significantly low thermal boundary resistance and limited trapping effects - based on SweGaN’ proprietary buffer-free approach.
  • The University of Bristol’s research is specialised in direct thermal measurements on active GaN transistors by using micro-Raman thermography and advanced devices characterisations and modeling. 

Kassiopeia is under the ESA ARTES Advanced Technology Programme: “European Ka-band high power solid-state technology for active antennas.”

Additional information on the joint Kassiopeia project can be found in recent press release from FBH, “Bundling unique European expertise for spaceborne devices.”

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