Gallium nitride (GaN) Chips Contribute to More Agile Radars

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GaN semiconductors offer substantially improved power and functionality, beyond current semiconductor technologies. They operate at higher voltage levels allowing significantly greater power output for the same size chip. Additionally, the material characteristics of GaN semiconductors offer efficient multi-band or wideband operation.

According to Mark Russell, IDS’ vice president of engineering, when matured, GaN semiconductors technology will be capable of delivering up to 10-times higher power levels compared with the current technology. With enhanced thermal characteristics, GaN technology enables engineers to trade off increases in range, sensitivity and search capability for same sized antennas. Alternatively, radar antenna made of GaN Transmit/Receive (T/R) elements can reduce the size by half while more than doubling the search volume.

Raytheon Company is developing monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) applications of GaN technology ‘s at the Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) division. In January 2007 the company completed 8,000 hours of successful operational testing of Gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). The tests demonstrated the reliability of this new technology for high-power applications in military radar, communications, electronic warfare and missile systems. Raytheon plans to continue accumulating test hours on these GaN MMICs and perform an independent concurrent validation of the testing through 2007.