9 September 2020
HRL’s ultra-linear GaN HEMTs exceed 30GHz targets in DARPA’s DREaM project
HRL Laboratories LLC of Malibu, CA, USA (which is co-owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors) says that a team led by principal investigator Dr Jeong-Sun Moon has met and exceeded the performance metrics defined by the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Dynamic Range-enhanced Electronics and Materials (DREaM) program, which aims to improve dynamic range in millimeter-wave (mm-wave) electronics.
Specifically, HRL has demonstrated a low-noise gallium nitride (GaN) high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT) with record linearity – the ratio between output third-order intercept power (OIP3) and DC power consumption (PDC) – for such devices. OIP3/PDC of 20dB at 30GHz was achieved, at least 10 times greater than conventional GaN HEMTs [International Microwave Symposium, 2019]. In parallel, HRL’s DREaM GaN transistors demonstrated power-added efficiency (PAE) of greater than 70% at 30GHz, which is said to be a vast improvement over reported PAEs of other mm-wave T-gated AlGaN/GaN HEMT devices [Electronics Letters, April 2020].
Picture: The DREaM project’s ultralinear GaN HEMTs enable secure ultra-wideband communication with higher data rates while reducing power draw on end-user platforms, such as ships, aircraft or satellites. © 2020 HRL Laboratories.
“We began our efforts in the DREaM project to develop advanced ultra-linear GaN transistors for mm-wave frequencies that enable transmission and reception without distortion across the electromagnetic spectrum,” Moon says. “This technology will enable secure ultra-wideband communication with higher data rates, while reducing the draw on the power sources of end-user platforms, such as ships, aircraft or satellites.”
With the initial goals reached, DARPA will now take the DREaM program into its second phase. With an even more challenging amplifier performance goal of 94GHz, DARPA hopes to implement wideband low-noise amplifiers with ambitious end-user needs in mind.
HRL’s team also includes engineers Bob Grabar, Joel Wong, Mike Antcliffe, Erdem Arkun, Isaac Khalaf, Peter Chen, Chuong Dao, Andrea Corrion and Dave Fanning.
The work is supported by the United States Air Force (USAF) under Contract No. FA8650-18-C-7802.
HRL to develop ultra-linear GaN transistors for mm-wave devices as part of DARPA’s DREaM program