TriQuint's GaN-on-diamond Technology Is Cutting Edge
The gallium nitride-on-diamond technology enables high performance, low heat operation and significantly smaller transistors
TriQuint Semiconductor has produced what it claims is the industry’s first GaN transistors using GaN-on-diamond wafers that substantially reduce semiconductor temperatures while maintaining high RF performance.
The firm's latest technology enables new generations of RF amplifiers up to three times smaller or up to three times the power of today’s GaN solutions.
TriQuint received a Compound Semiconductor Industry Award in March commending its new GaN-on-diamond achievements. TriQuint’s James L. Klein, Vice President and General Manager for Infrastructure and Defense Products, remarked that unlocking the true potential of high-efficiency GaN circuits will depend on achievements like those of TriQuint’s advanced research and development program.
Operating temperature largely determines high performance semiconductor reliability. It’s especially critical for GaN devices that are capable of very high power densities.
“By increasing the thermal conductivity and reducing device temperature, we are enabling new generations of GaN devices that may be much smaller than today’s products. This gives significant RF design and operational benefits for our commercial and defence customers," he said.
TriQuint demonstrated its new GaN-on-diamond, high electron mobility transistors (HEMT) in conjunction with partners at the University of Bristol, Group4 Labs and Lockheed Martin under the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Near Junction Thermal Transport (NJTT) program.
NJTT is the first initiative in DARPA's new ‘Embedded Cooling’ program that includes the ICECool Fundamentals and ICECool Applications research and development engagements. NJTT focuses on device thermal resistance 'near the junction' of the transistor. Thermal resistance inside device structures can be responsible for more than 50% of normal operational temperature increases. TriQuint research has shown that GaN RF devices can operate at a much higher power density and in smaller sizes, through its highly effective thermal management techniques.
TriQuint’s breakthrough involves the successful transfer of a semiconductor epitaxial overlay onto a synthetic diamond substrate, providing a high thermal conductivity and low thermal boundary resistance, while preserving critical GaN crystalline layers.
This achievement is the first to demonstrate the feasibility of GaN-on-diamond HEMT devices. Results to date indicate TriQuint achieved the primary NJTT goal of a three-fold improvement in heat dissipation while preserving RF functionality; this achievement supports reducing power amplifier size or increasing output power by a factor of three.
Additional fabrication improvements and extensive device testing are underway to optimise the epitaxial layer transfer process and fully characterize enhancements that can be achieved in these new HEMT devices.