Gallium-nitride Solid-State Power amplifier reliability analysis report


Over the past several years many research groups have been developing new compound semiconductor materials that have the potential to achieve very high levels of current density and power density per unit area. The most promising materials to date are Silicon-Carbide (SiC) and Gallium-Nitride (GaN). Semiconductor transistors manufactured from these materials open opportunities for major advances in RF power amplifiers.

This 29-page report contrasts the predicted reliability for three different architectures of Gallium-Nitride based solid-state power amplifiers. Each SSPA architecture was designed to achieve 120 watts of RF output power at Ka-Band (31 to 36 GHz) using various methods of power combining multiple GaN transistors.

The three architectures include: 

  • Radial Combiner 
  • Parallel-Plate Radial Combiner 
  • Waveguide Binary

The goal of this work was not to predict the “absolute” reliability of the GaN SSPA architecture but rather to contrast the relative reliability between the three designs. Specifically, the absolute reliability prediction would be pre-mature at this date due to the fact that no GaN device exist that can deliver the high output power required. However, by applying some generic assumptions about the environment and using projected failure rates of the anticipated GaN device technology, a “relative” reliability prediction can be calculated.

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