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Plextek designs GaN PA for Astro Digital

Module will form part of a propulsion system for use in space applications

Plextek RFI, a UK design house specialising in microwave and millimetre-wave IC design, has successfully designed and supplied a microwave power amplifier (PA) module for California-based satellite manufacturer and space mission operator Astro Digital.

The module designed by Plextek RFI incorporates a power GaN output device and a GaAs driver circuit. It will form part of a propulsion system that is being supplied to an in-space transportation service company, and will be launched into space in 2019.

“The specification for this design project presented us with some significant challenges,” said Liam Devlin, CEO of Plextek RFI. “The module design seeks to maximise the DC to RF conversion efficiency, and – as with all of our power amplifier designs – attention to detail was required to manage the thermal performance in a compact space. The different packaging technologies used for the driver amplifier and the output device also necessitated an innovative approach to the PCB design.”

“It was a great experience working with Plextek RFI on this project,” said Patrick Shannon, of Astro Digital. “We needed a design partner who was skilled in all of the semiconductor device, circuit, and packaging technologies needed for our space application. Plextek RFI’s experience with high efficiency solid state amplifiers and track record really stood out from the crowd.”

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