Cree launches a variety of SiC-based GaN devices to help accelerate the development of large-scale radar

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Durham, NC, USA, April 19, 2021 – Cree, Inc. (Nasdaq: CREE), a global leader in silicon carbide technology, announced the launch of several gallium nitride on silicon carbide (GaN- on-SiC) devices: Wolfspeed CMPA901A020S, CMPA9396025S, CMPA801B030 series. The device launched this time adopts MMIC technology and has the characteristics of miniaturization, high efficiency, high reliability, and excellent power density required for the development and deployment of large-scale radar systems, which can effectively meet the challenges faced by large-scale radars.

X-band (8 GHz to 12 GHz) radar is a key device for commercial navigation. In addition to aviation, X-band is widely deployed in fields including maritime vessel traffic control, meteorological monitoring, bird movement monitoring near airports, and anti-icing remote sensing.

The field of X-band Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) systems is gaining traction in research and development, mainly on large airborne platforms, but also in the land and maritime segments. AESA systems use active arrays, each with hundreds or even thousands of antennas. Each antenna has its own phase and gain controls. The spacing of the antenna elements is typically half wavelength to reduce exposure in the near field. AESA radars also often need to spread the signal over a wide range of high frequencies. Such frequency agility allows the radar to quickly search for targets in the sector, while remaining concealed and resulting in better anti-jamming capabilities. These requirements present a challenge for engineers: each antenna element must be small and lightweight enough, while keeping the overall system size and weight manageable for air and sea use.

Enabling Technology: GaN

GaN can help radar designers overcome many challenges such as power, heat dissipation, weight and size, and cost-effectiveness. It has a wide energy bandgap, has a very high critical breakdown electric field; has excellent high temperature reliability, outstanding high power supply Robustness at voltage, and excellent power density. Using silicon carbide (SiC) as the substrate for GaN enables low thermal expansion, low lattice mismatch, and excellent thermal conductivity to fully exploit the properties of GaN.

High performance key

Monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) increase circuit density by fabricating complete functional modules of multiple components in a single device. The MMIC is available in a Quad Flat No-Lead (QFN) package, which further reduces cost and size. Because the QFN package uses short bond wires to help reduce lead inductance, its exposed copper die pad provides excellent thermal performance.

The devices launched by Cree are based on the above technologies:

Housed in a 6 × 6 mm QFN package, Wolfspeed’s CMPA901A020S device is a 20W GaN-on-SiC high power amplifier capable of operating in the 9 GHz to 10 GHz frequency range for pulsed radar applications such as marine weather radar. The amplifier’s three-stage gain provides greater than 30 dB large-signal gain and greater than 50 percent efficiency, enabling lower system DC power requirements and supporting simplified system thermal management solutions.

Another GaN MMIC is the CMPA9396025S, which can integrate many technologies to maximize size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) improvements. Designed for 9.3-GHz to 9.6-GHz operation, this tertiary device is packaged in a 6 × 6 mm QFN package and delivers 25 W at 100-µs pulse width, 10% duty cycle.

The CMPA801B030 family of MMIC amplifiers operates in the 7.9-GHz to 11-GHz frequency range, enabling wider bandwidth and higher power in the X-band. The typical output is up to 40 W, the large signal gain is greater than 20 dB, and the power added efficiency is up to 40%. The product family features a 7 × 7 mm plastic overmolded QFN, also available in bare die and 10-pin metal/ceramic mounting flanged packages for superior electrical and thermal performance.

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