19 January 2023
NEC achieves record output power in 150GHz band using mass-producible GaAs technology
Tokyo-based NEC Corp has developed a power amplifier that can serve as a key device for mobile access and fronthaul/backhaul wireless communication equipment to enable high-speed, high-capacity communications for 5G Advanced and 6G networks. The power amplifier uses gallium arsenide (GaAs) technology that can be mass produced and has achieved record output power of 10mW in the 150GHz band. Capitalizing on this, NEC aims to fast-track both equipment development and social implementation.
5G Advanced and 6G are expected to deliver 100Gbps-class high-speed, high-capacity communications, equivalent to 10 times the speed of existing 5G. This can be effectively achieved through the use of the sub-terahertz band (100–300GHz), which can provide a wide bandwidth of 10GHz or more. In particular, early commercialization of the D band (130–174.8GHz) – which is internationally allocated for fixed-wireless communications – is expected.
NEC says that it continues to make advances in technology development by leveraging its knowledge of high-frequency bands cultivated through the development and operation of radio equipment for 5G base stations and PASOLINK, an ultra-compact microwave communication system that connects base stations via wireless communication.
The newly developed power amplifier uses a commercially available 0.1μm GaAs pseudomorphic high-electron-mobility transistor (pHEMT) process. Compared with silicon-based CMOS and silicon germanium (SiGe) used for the sub-terahertz band, GaAs pHEMTs have high operating voltage and lower initial costs for mass production.
Picture: NEC’s newly developed D-band power amplifier.
In terms of circuit design, the power amplifier eliminates factors that degrade performance in the high-frequency band and uses an impedance-matching network configuration suitable for high output power. This has resulted in the achievement of excellent high-frequency characteristics between 110GHz and 150GHz as well as the world’s highest output power for a GaAs pHEMT.
In addition to the realization of high-performance, low-cost radio communication equipment above 100GHz, it is expected that the power amplifier will accelerate the social implementation of 5G Advanced and 6G.
NEC says that, going forward, it will continue to develop technologies aimed at achieving high-speed, high-capacity, cost-effective wireless communications for 5G Advanced and 6G.
This research is supported by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in Japan (JPJ000254).
NEC is announcing further details regarding this technology at the IEEE Topical Conference on RF/Microwave Power Amplifiers for Radio and Wireless Applications (PAWR2023) in Las Vegas (22–25 January.