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High Efficiency, High Linearity Gallium Nitride Amplifiers for Space-Based Active Antenna Arrays

Project Member(s): Zhu, X.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Altum RF International B.V. (Altum RF International B.V. CRC)
Altum RF International B.V. (Altum RF International B.V. CRC)
SmartSat CRC Limited (SmartSat CRC)
SmartSat CRC Limited (SmartSat CRC)

Start year: 2024

Summary: The evolution of satellite antenna technology continues to advance modern wireless services, including integration with terrestrial systems for fast internet in remote regions, TV broadcasts, mobile services, etc. Traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTA) capable of powers > 100W are still used today in satellite communication systems because of their high power and efficiency. However, they are unsuitable for integration with the next generation of high throughput satellites (HTS), employing advanced phased array antenna systems. Their drawbacks include mass, size, and impractical power supply requirements. Another key concern is reliability and lifetime due to the finite source of electrons available from a TWTA cathode. The aerospace and defence (A&D) companies that are developing these next-generation antenna systems for HTS are pressing Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) component suppliers like Altum RF, to develop state-of-the-art amplifiers with ever-increasing efficiency, linearity, and output power; all in a small form factor. Gallium nitride (GaN) is today’s preferred semiconductor technology for such MMIC developments, replacing gallium arsenide (GaAs) technology due to its higher power density, improved performance at elevated temperatures, and intrinsic high tolerance to radiation. This project aims to develop power amplifiers using state-of-the-art GaN technology, to address the specific power amplifier requirements of Airbus Defence and Space, UK; a tier 1 European aerospace and defence customer.

FOR Codes: Analog electronics and interfaces, Communication technologies, systems and services