Single-DC-Input Multi-Level Envelope Tracking of a High-Efficiency X-Band Power Amplifier

This paper addresses the efficiency enhancement of microwave power amplifiers (PAs) with discrete-level supply-modulation. We demonstrate an efficient modulator architecture that generates three levels of drain supply voltages from a single dc voltage. Each level is stored in a “flying” capacitor that acts as a temporary voltage supply and is dynamically regulated by feedback through reversal of the PA drain current. A hybrid modulator based on GaN-on-Si technology is tested with a single-stage 2-W X-band MMIC PA with a drain efficiency of 55% at the peak output power. The overall average drain efficiency (PA and modulator) of up to 43% is measured with Gaussian-like pulses for radar and a 5-MHz 6-dB PAPR OFDM signal, and is improved up to 14 percentage points over a constant supply case, with normalized root mean square error below 1.5% when pre-distortion is used.