9 February 2024
Soctera demos superior thermal performance in GaN HEMTs for next-gen telecoms and radar
Soctera of Ithaca, NY USA (a developer of thermally optimized III-nitride millimeter-wave power amplifiers) has demonstrated high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) exhibiting a peak surface temperature rise of just 59°C while dissipating 10.4W/mm. Typical gallium nitride (GaN) HEMTs reach the standard operating temperature limit of 225°C when dissipating about 5W/mm. This dramatic improvement in thermal performance could substantially reduce thermal solution costs, enhance reliability, and increase peak power output in next-generation telecommunications (5G and beyond) and defense radar arrays, it is reckoned.
“Reduced heat buildup redefines what is possible for the high-performance communications industry,” says CEO Austin Hickman. “We are delighted with these third-party results and are working now to quickly scale our technology via commercial production methods.”
Built on a thermally optimized III-nitride material stack that is fully compatible with standard GaN foundry processes, Soctera’s HEMTs use 20x less gallium per device, insulating the firm’s products from supply chain disruptions or price increases arising from potential future restrictions of gallium supply from China. The HEMTs were fabricated at the Cornell Nanoscale Facility and the surface temperature profile was measured with sub-micron resolution via thermo-reflectance by Microsanj LLC.
The 4-inch wafers used in the tests were produced by global epitaxy manufacturer IQE, with whom Soctera has partnered for commercial-scale development. Towards building out end-to-end commercial manufacturing, Soctera has started HEMT fabrication with a DoD-approved GaN foundry.
Soctera’s technology maturation efforts were recently bolstered with $750,000 in non-dilutive funding awarded by the Defense Business Accelerator pitch competition.