GaN and GaAs Process Technologies and PA Architectures to Support mm-Wave Frequencies

Exponential growth in demand for information communication and acquisition drives a need to utilize greater segments of the EM spectrum. That need is met by increasing operating frequencies > 10X and operating bandwidths > 10X. Millimeter-wave systems can provide that capability. This presentation examines challenges and solutions for power amplifiers realizing those order of magnitude improvements in capability. GaAs has long dominated millimeter-wave solid state power amplifiers. Advances in semiconductor device and processing technology bring advantages at higher power levels using GaN material structures and at lower power levels using Si-based technologies. Advances in system architectures have yielded dramatically different PA requirements in power level and operating frequency, best served by different technologies. High power level applications served by GaAs and GaN technologies are explored further in this presentation. Fundamental trades in power amplifier design moving from narrow bandwidth RF circuits to wideband millimeter-wave circuits are explored. An illustration of Ka-band millimeter-wave high power amplifier progress over the past two decades is presented.