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12 September 2006


Philips allies with UMS and Fraunhofer-IAF on GaN broadband PAs for wireless base-stations

Philips has formed an alliance to develop gallium nitride (GaN) technology and products for the growing cellular infrastructure market.

The Dutch electronics and semiconductor manufacturer is partnering with GaAs IC maker and foundry United Monolithic Semiconductors (a joint venture between Thales and EADS with production facilities in Orsay, France and Ulm, Germany) and Fraunhofer-IAF (Institut Angewandte Festkörperphysik) of Freiburg, Germany to collaborate on the research and development of GaN technologies. While Philips stays committed to the evolution of silicon LDMOS technology, through GaN it is investing in the future of
next-generation connected consumer products, it stresses.

UMS also has a technical cooperation with the main European laboratories involved in the development of GaN technology: TIGER (the joint laboratory created in 2002 by Alcatel-Thales' III-V Lab near Paris and IEMN-CNRS Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology in Lille to develop GaN HEMT technology for applications up to 40GHz), Fraunhofer-IAF, and the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik, Berlin, Germany.

According to Ulf Meiners, technical director for UMS, the work with Philips concerns GaN HEMT devices grown on silicon carbide substrates. However, other substrate materials (including silicon) will be considered if there is
a commercial need, adds Meiners.

Using GaN technology in a transmitter will enable infrastructure equipment manufactures to provide significant cost reductions in system manufacturing.
They will also benefit from major improvements in system performance and flexibility. Currently, base-station power amplifiers are limited to specific applications. With GaN-based technology, operators will be able to use a "universal transmitter" to switch between systems and frequencies to meet instantaneous demands in areas covered by the basestation.

GaN technology enables the following advantages:

  • high frequency combined with high power yet lower costs;
  • broadband operation, allowing a single power amplifier to be operated at
    multiple frequencies;
  • development of future high-power switch-mode PA architectures.

Philips expects to make the first GaN broadband power amplifiers available in 2009, with switched-mode power amplifier (SMPA) offerings to follow.

Visit: http://www.ums-gaas.com