In the last decade, GaN-on-Si has progressed from fundamental crystal growth studies to product realization and reliability demonstration. GaN-on-Si HEMTs addressing cellular, WiMAX, and broadband RF applications are now commercially available and offer GaN performance attributes in a cost-competitive platform. This presentation will briefly describe the underlying GaN-on-Si material, process, and packaging technology, then focus primarily on performance of these products in both commercial and military applications.
All Nitronex NRF1 GaN-on-Si products are grown by MOCVD on 100 mm float-zone Si (111) substrates. A proprietary, strain-compensating (Al,Ga)N transition layer and an amorphous SixAl1-xNy nucleation layer are employed to accommodate lattice and thermal expansion mismatch between the substrate and the epilayers. The wafer fabrication process employs Ti/Al-based ohmic contacts, ion implant device isolation, 0.5 um dielectrically-defined gates, gold airbridge interconnects, and through-wafer source vias. Typical inline DC parametrics include 2DEG sheet resistance of 490 ohms/sq., on-resistance of 3 ohm-mm, peak drain current density of 830 mA/mm, and breakdown voltage of >100V. Packaging solutions include traditional LDMOS-style air cavity outlines with thermally-enhanced flange materials and low-cost plastic SOIC.
A family of devices addressing emerging OFDM-based applications such as WiMAX has been developed. WiMAX amplifiers require several watts of linear output power with frequency band allocations ranging from 2.3 to 5.8 GHz and instantaneous bandwidth up to ∼15%. Translated to the transistor level, this implies simultaneous high frequency and high voltage capability – attributes well-suited to the inherent advantages of GaN-based devices. The flagship product in this family is NPT25100, delivering 125W of peak envelope power at 2.5 GHz. Under 2.5 GHz single-carrier OFDM modulation and 10 MHz channel bandwidth, this device produces 10W linear power at 2.0% EVM with 16.5dB associated gain and 26% drain efficiency. The excellent bandwidth of NRF1 devices enables the same device to operate at cellular frequencies from 2.11 - 2.17 GHz, producing >20W average power at an adjacent channel power ratio of -35 dBc.
Primary military insertion opportunities include communications (e.g., JTRS - Joint Tactical Radio System) and electronic warfare (e.g., jammers). For EW applications, broadband operation reduces system-level component count and decreases weight / footprint. A family of 48V GaN-on-Si broadband HEMTs has been developed to deliver power levels from 40W - 180W in a compact package. In the highest power case, packaged “power density” (defined as peak output power divided by package volume) reaches ∼650 W/cm3. These power levels – in an outline suitable for highly portable systems – enable improved communications transmit distance and extend the umbrella size of electronic protection units.