Project to Produce Nitrogen Polar GaN for RF/mmWave Applications

Aug. 5, 2019
Continuing a contract between Transphorm and the U.S. DoD ONR, the company will step up efforts to produce a commercial nitrogen polar gallium-nitride epiwafer.

The following article was originally published in MWEE. It is reprinted here with permission.

Transphorm Inc. has announced that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Naval Research (ONR) has exercised a three-year $15.9 million option on an existing $2.6 million base contract with the company to produce the first commercialized nitrogen polar gallium-nitride (GaN) for RF/mmWave applications.

This contract, N68335-19-C-0107, administered by Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst establishes Transphorm as a U.S.-based dedicated production source and supplier of GaN epiwafers for DoD and commercial RF/mmWave and power electronics applications. The award comprises a Base Program for key technology development/transfer and an Option Program to establish production-scale capability.

The program’s core objective is to commercialize nitrogen polar (N-polar) GaN, a breakthrough technology beyond the incumbent Ga-polar GaN. N-polar GaN holds significant promise for the continued advancement of GaN-based electronics, in today’s RF electronics and future power conversion systems. The technology, exclusively licensed to Transphorm, was invented under ONR and DARPA sponsorship at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) by the team of Professor Umesh Mishra, Distinguished Professor at UCSB and Transphorm’s Co-founder, CTO and Chairman.

“The N-polar orientation of the material is reversed from the traditional Ga-polar GaN currently being widely used in base station and DoD applications. The flip produces radical benefits in output power along with groundbreaking efficiencies to frequencies as high as 94 GHz,” said Dr. Mishra. “Applications span the frequency range of interest for 5G, 6G, and beyond and also fill a critical technological void for DoD systems.”

At 94 GHz, Mishra’s UCSB team has demonstrated mmWave devices with record power densities and high efficiencies. These devices simplify RF electronic systems by reducing the need for power combining multiple components and devices while also simplifying cooling systems, ultimately resulting in higher performance at reduced cost.

Currently in production with several customers, Transphorm stands as a leading supplier of high-quality, high-reliability (Q+R) HV GaN FETs. The company’s success is driven by a vertically integrated business approach, expertise, IP, and, particularly, a solid MOCVD epi growth platform with production scale. With this ONR program, the company will address epi capability on multiple platforms including SiC, Si, and sapphire substrates ranging from 4-inch to 6-inch and ultimately 8-inch wafers. In the RF and mmWave area, Transphorm will be a pure play epiwafer supplier focused solely on GaN materials.  

“We are excited to partner with the ONR and DoD to commercialize our high performance GaN HEMT IP and epitaxy capability, specifically via the breakthrough N-polar and Ga-polar materials on various substrates including silicon carbide, sapphire, and silicon,” said Primit Parikh, Co-founder and COO, Transphorm. “This enables Transphorm to grow an adjacent vertical, that of epiwafer sales for DoD customers and fast-growing RF/5G markets. We are already seeing demand and are excited to go from purchase to production in less than 36 months, a key program goal.”

As with all Transphorm GaN products, the epiwafer offerings will be backed by: rapid development; production scalability; uniform, high yielding wafer products; and statistical Process Control manufacturing.

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