BAE Systems has signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for Phase 1 of a technical program to transition gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology developed by the Air Force to BAE’s Advanced Microwave Products (AMP) Center. As part of this transition, BAE will move the high-frequency, high-speed GaN technology to larger semiconductor wafers to increase the number of integrated circuits (ICs) and active devices that can be produced per wafer run.
Smaller wafer runs, such as 2- or 3-in.-diameter GaN wafers, will be transitioned to the 6-in.-diameter GaN wafers used at BAE’s AMP Center to cut the costs per chip of the GaN devices for use in radar, electronic warfare (EW), and secure communications systems. As part of the agreement, BAE is working with AFRL to establish a 140-nm GaN monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) process that will be qualified for production by 2020, with products available to DoD suppliers through an open foundry service.
“Millimeter-wave GaN technologies today are produced in research and development laboratories in low volumes at high associated costs or in captive foundries that are not broadly accessible to defense suppliers,” said Scott Sweetland, Advanced Microwave Products director at BAE Systems. “This effort will leverage AFRL’s high-performance technology and BAE Systems’ 6-in. manufacturing capability to advance the state of the art in GaN MMIC performance, reliability, and affordability while providing broader access to this critical technology.”
Work on the project will be performed mainly in BAE’s 70,000-ft.2 Microelectronics Center (MEC) in Nashua, N.H. The MEC has been an accredited DoD Category 1A Trusted Supplier since 2008, fabricating ICs in production quantities for critical DoD programs.