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Northrop Grumman Begins Sampling New Gallium Nitride MMIC Product Line
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Nov 02, 2012


illustration only

Northrop Grumman has developed a line of gallium nitride (GaN) Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) for military and commercial uses. These devices represent the first commercial availability of GaN-based components from the company.

Initial engineering evaluation sampling is underway with quantities of three GaN MMIC products. They were developed for defense and commercial ground satellite communication terminal markets and the commercial wireless infrastructure market, said Frank Kropschot, general manager of the Microelectronics Products and Services (MPS) business unit of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

"We have been producing gallium nitride-based devices since 2002 at Northrop Grumman's dedicated wafer fabrication facility in Redondo Beach, which the Department of Defense has designated as a Trusted Foundry," Kropschot said.

"We have achieved outstanding performance and reliability from our high-frequency gallium nitride process and are extremely confident that these GaN MMICs will improve performance, efficiency and bandwidth for military and commercial users."

The initial set of three MMICs has these performance characteristics:

+ The APN149 is a GaN high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) MMIC power amplifier chip that operates between 18 and 23 gigahertz (GHz). This power amplifier provides 20 decibels (dB) of linear gain, +36 dBm (4 watts) of output power at 1 dB gain compression and +38 dBm (6.3 W) in saturation with Physical Address Extension (PAE) of greater than 30 percent.

+ The APN180 is a GaN HEMT MMIC power amplifier chip that operates between 27 and 31 GHz. This power amplifier provides 21 dB of linear gain, +38 dBm (6.3 W) of output power at 1 dB gain compression and +39 dBm (8 W) in saturation with PAE of 30 percent at midband. For less demanding applications, the APN180 can be operated from a drain voltage as low as +20V while still producing +37 dBm (5 W) of saturated output power.

+ The APN167 is a GaN HEMT MMIC power amplifier chip that operates between 43 and 46 GHz. This power amplifier provides 20 dB of gain, +35.5 dBm (3.5 W) of output power at 1 dB gain compression and +38.5 dBm (7 W) in saturation with PAE of 19 percent at midband.

"These new products are the first of several we plan to introduce into the marketplace during the next few months as we roll out a new family of products using Northrop Grumman's 0.2 m GaN HEMT process developed partially under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Wide Band Gap Semiconductors for Radio Frequency program (WBGS-RF)," Kropschot said.

He added the DARPA program was the first of several key GaN technology development contracts awarded to Northrop Grumman beginning in 2002.

He noted that GaN devices are key components the new low-cost terminals recently introduced by an industry team consisting of Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Space Systems and TeleCommunication Systems.

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