Integration of RF Circuits with High Speed GaN Switching on Silicon Substrates

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

Future generation (5G) mobile phones and other portable devices will need to transfer data at a much higher rate than at present in order to accommodate an increase in the number of users, the employment of multi-band and multi-channel operation, the projected dramatic increase in wireless information exchange such as with high definition video and the large increase in connectivity where many devices will be connected to other devices (called "The Internet of Things"). This places big challenges on the performance of base stations in terms of fidelity of the signal and improved energy efficiency since energy usage could increase in line with the amount of data transfer. To meet the predicted massive increase in capacity there will be a reduced reliance on large coverage base-stations, with small-cell base-stations (operating at lower power levels) becoming much more common. In addition to the challenges mentioned above, small cells will demand a larger number of low cost systems.

To meet these challenges this proposal aims to use electronic devices made from gallium nitride (GaN) which has the desirable property of being able to operate at very high frequencies (for high data transfer rates) and in a very efficient manner to reduce the projected energy usage. To maintain the high frequency capability of these devices, circuits will be integrated into a single circuit to reduce the slowing effects of stray inductances and capacitances. Additionally these integrated circuits will be manufactured on large area silicon substrates which will reduce the system unit cost significantly.

The proposed high levels of integration using GaN devices as the basic building block and combining microwave and switching technologies have never been attempted before and requires a multi-disciplinary team with complementary specialist expertise. The proposed consortium brings together the leading UK groups with expertise in GaN crystal growth (Cambridge), device design and fabrication (Sheffield), high frequency circuit design and fabrication (Glasgow), variable power supply design (Manchester) and high frequency characterisation and power amplifier design (Cardiff). Before designing and developing the technology for fabricating the integrated systems to demonstrate the viability of the proposed solutions, a deep scientific understanding is required into how the quality of the GaN crystals on silicon substrates affect the operation of the devices. In summary, the powerful grouping within the project will bring together the expertise to design and produce the novel integrated circuits and systems to meet the demanding objectives of this research proposal.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/N014820/1 01/08/2016 31/12/2017 £770,790
EP/N014820/2 Transfer EP/N014820/1 01/01/2018 31/07/2020 £513,015
 
Description Establishing industry relationship with compound semiconductor UK industry; this was done via the submission of Innovate UK grant proposal jointly with The Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) in Cardiff. Cardiff University also involved in this potential collaborative program.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Healthcare
Impact Types Economic

 
Description A Feasibility Study for the Development of GaN - based High Frequency RF Devices
Amount £148,843 (GBP)
Funding ID 103440 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2018
 
Description EuMC2016 Workshop - EPSRC Projects in Microwave, Millimetre-Wave and THz Research - Presentation on Integration of RF Circuits with High Speed GaN Switching on Silicon Substrates 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change." For several years EPSRC has designated RF and Microwave Devices and RF and Microwave Communications as growth areas, and this policy is manifested in a current portfolio of grants in these areas totaling over £30M. In this workshop, the strategic direction, ambition and vision of EPSRC for RF and Microwave research will be presented and discussed, and a series of talks showcasing a cross section of current EPSRC funded projects will be given.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.eumweek.com/docs/workshops/WF12Abs&Sched.pdf
 
Description International Workshop on Nitride Semiconductors (IWN 2016) - Chairing a Technical Session, C2.3: Power Devices III: Devices for Power Electronics III Session Chairs: Khaled Elgaid and Robert Co e Thursday Afternoon, October 6, 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chairing a Technical Session - C2.3: Power Devices III: Devices for Power Electronics III Session Chairs: Khaled Elgaid and Robert Co e Thursday Afternoon, October 6, 2016
Room: Narcissus/Orange Blossom
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.mrs.org/iwn-2016
 
Description International Workshop on Nitride Semiconductors (IWN 2016), Presenting GaN Research Activities - MMIC-Compatible Microstrip Technology for GaN-HEMTs on Low Resistivity Silicon Substrate Khaled Elgaid1, Abdalla M. Eblabla1, Bhavana Benakaprasad1, Xu Li1, Iain Thayne1, David Wallis 2, Ivor Guiney2 and Colin Humphreys2; 1Electronic and Nanoscale Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom; 2Centre for GaN, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International Workshop on Nitride Semiconductors (IWN 2016), October 2-7, 2016, Orlando, Florida
The International Workshop on Nitride Semiconductors is a premier biennial-held meeting covering all aspects of III-Nitride Semiconductor science, engineering and industry. Historically populated by nearly a thousand international participants, the meeting accommodates joint and multiple parallel sessions spanning materials, optoelectronic devices, electronic devices, new advances and theory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.mrs.org/iwn-2016
 
Description Invited Speaker at IEEE Ottawa Section, IEEE Ottawa Technical Seminar at University of Ottawa, Canada, October 31, 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited Speaker, presentation title "RF GaN-on-LR Si Monolithic Integrated Circuits Technology", at IEEE Ottawa Section, IEEE Ottawa Technical Seminar at University of Ottawa, Canada, October 31, 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Keynote Presentations at "IET Colloquium on Millimetre-wave and Terahertz Engineering & Technology", Glasgow, United Kingdom, 30 March 2017. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote Speaker, title "Microwave and THz Technology Development at Glasgow University" at "IET Colloquium on Millimetre-wave and Terahertz Engineering & Technology", Glasgow, United Kingdom, 30 March 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Microwave and Millimeter-wave GaN - Wafer to IC Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Centre for High Frequency Engineering at Cardiff University invites researchers and industry to attend the scheduled Microwave and Millimeter-wave GaN - Wafer to IC workshop on 25th April 2018 at Cardiff University. The aim of the workshop is to present up to date Microwave and Millimeter-wave GaN technology development and discusses its future potential in the area of 5G, space and security.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/events/view/microwave-and-millimeter-wave-gan-wafer-to-ic-workshop
 
Description The European Space Agency (ESA) 8th Wide Bandgap Semiconductor and Components Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The European Space Agency (ESA), CNES, EDA and the DGA are jointly organising the 8th Wide Bandgap Semiconductor and Components workshop to promote and facilitate information exchange on wide bandgap technologies for microwave, power switching, sensor and other emerging space/defence applications. This will be a 2 day event, to be held at ESA's newest establishment ECSAT, Harwell, UK, on the 12th and 13th of September 2016.
An important objective is to facilitate information exchange between aerospace, defence, Space Agency and EU funded research programmes in order to enhance visibility on latest developments, allowing for a proper coordination that ensures a rapid transition of the technology into manufacturing industry. To do so, an open discussion session is planned in which attendee viewpoints will be gathered in order to identify key problem areas and to help coordinate and plan future research and development work programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://esaconferencebureau.com/2016-events/16c14/objectives
 
Description Workshop; THz Electronics Technology for Communications and Sensing, 47th European Microwave Week. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation title - "THz-MICs interconnect and integrated antenna technology on GaN on low-resistivity silicon substrates", at a workshop "THz Electronics Technology for Communications and Sensing", 47th European Microwave Week (EuMW), Nuremberg, Germany, 8 - 12 October 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.eumweek.com/docs/2577_eumw2017_conf_prog_MAIN_FINAL_v2.pdf