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12 April 2016

Wolfspeed's GaN RF devices demonstrate reliability for harsh space environments

Wolfspeed of Research Triangle Park, NC, USA – a Cree Company that makes silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) wide-bandgap semiconductor devices – says that its GaN-on-SiC RF power transistors have completed testing to demonstrate compliance with NASA reliability standards for satellite and space systems. The firm's proven GaN-on-SiC fabrication processes have delivered more than 100 billion total hours of field operation with a best-in-class FIT (failure-in-time) rate of less than 5 per billion device hours for discrete GaN RF transistors and multi-stage GaN MMICs.

Wolfspeed partnered with RF & microwave component firm KCB Solutions LLC of Shirley, MA, USA to conduct a comprehensive testing program to demonstrate that its GaN-on-SiC devices meet NASA EEE-INST-002 Level 1 reliability and performance standards, derived from the MIL-STD requirements for Class S and Class K qualifications.

"This successful testing demonstrates that Wolfspeed's GaN foundry process is capable of producing devices that meet these demanding reliability standards. Our customers now have the ability to specify our GaN RF devices in the most critical aerospace, military, and satellite electronics systems," says RF & microwave director Jim Milligan. "Our proven GaN-on-SiC technology enables design engineers to make smaller, lighter, more efficient and more reliable solid-state power amplifiers than are possible with conventional traveling-wave tube (TWT) amplifiers or those designed with gallium arsenide (GaAs) devices. Now, aerospace designers can achieve higher-performance radar and communications systems with a significantly lighter payload and longer operating life," he adds. 

"As an AS9100-certified facility with an extensive history of supplying Class S and Class K devices for aerospace and satellite electronic systems, KCB Solutions implemented a comprehensive testing program in conjunction with Wolfspeed to ensure that their GaN process was capable of producing devices that meet these demanding NASA standards," notes KCB's president Ralph Nilsson. "This testing regime was derived from the established MIL-STD qualification requirements of Class S and Class K, and included evaluation for ESD, intrinsic reliability, SEM analysis, and radiation hardness."

The testing program consisted of five test procedures conducted by KCB on Wolfspeed's 25W GaN-on-SiC HEMT CGH40025F and its 25W two-stage X-band GaN MMIC CMPA801B025F devices, which are produced using Wolfspeed's proven 0.4µm G28V3 fabrication process. Both devices demonstrated no significant RF performance change after undergoing all the test procedures, including exposure to a cumulative dose of radiation exceeding 1Mrad.

Almost all space and satellite equipment manufacturers require electronic components to meet established high-reliability military qualification standards in order to be specified into their communications and radar systems, notes Wolfspeed. These standards include MIL- PRF-38535 Class S for single chips and MIL-PRF38534 Class K for multichip modules. Wolfspeed's collaboration with KCB allows them to upscreen their GaN devices to ensure they are compliant with the NASA EEE-INST-002 level 1 standards based on these Class S and Class K requirements. As a result of the testing at KCB, several companies have already specified Wolfspeed's GaN devices for their space applications, the firm says.

Tags: Wolfspeed

Visit: www.kcbsolutions.com

Visit: www.wolfspeed.com/RF

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