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ELeGaNS Report Summary

Project ID: 735574

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ELeGaNS (Europe-Leading GaN for Space)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Gallium nitride (GaN) devices for satellite communication are in great need however there are problems with efficiency, thermal management, and linearity that must be solved. SweGaN has addressed these technical issues in the sme instrument phase 1. Furthermore a detailed verification of the market for GaN materials and devices has been made and an understanding of why GaN devices are important for satellite communication.

Mobile data is growing at an explosive pace and building out the network using existing technology will lead to an enormous increase in energy consumption with associated CO2 emissions and an enormous cost as well. Furthermore, it is mainly the urban parts of the developed countries that can fully enjoy a high capacity of the network. In less populated areas the network is not as good. There is also 4 billion people in the world that do not have any internet at all. To solve these issues satellite communication must be used and high power, energy efficient devices operating at high frequency must be developed to reduce the energy consumption/bit and increase the capacity. Such devices can be made of GaN making this an urgent societal need both with respect to supplying a higher network capacity but also by reducing the CO2 emissions.

The overall objectives are:
Technical verification/development of SweGaN's material
Verification of the market
Investigate cost structure and willingness to pay
Develop a goto market strategy
Investigate the organizational and strategic changes within the company

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Customers and users and suppliers were approached and interviewed. A good understanding of the space market's need and the manufacturers interest in GaN has been obtained. The cost structure has been investigated using a target application and device size. This understanding has led to that SweGaN approach to the market has changed and does not only include materials but also device development to fully exploit the advantages of SweGaN's material.
The technical verification showed that the initial approach to reduce memory effects is not feasible using a traditional structure so three new approaches were developed: A more traditional commonly used approach was adopted where SweGaN still can use their competitive advantage but the devices will have more memory effects; A back-barrier solution which will reduce the memory effects but will hamper the thermal management. SweGaN has a very good thermal solution already with a 5 x lower thermal barrier towards the substrate so this solution will be attractive for the customer; A new solution that will be patented. These three approaches are being verified by SweGaN's device processing partners. Thanks to this project, a novel material combination is being designed using isotope enriched SiC as the substrate which can boost the performance by another 20%. This is made possible thanks to the cost structure on devices for the space industry.
SweGaN must hire people in order to develop this market but the business cannot be sustained on making materials and devices for the space industry alone and instead SweGaN must augment the space market by selling materials and devices to the telecom and defense sectors as well who have similar needs.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The progress beyond state of the art is that SweGaN can provide material with a reduced thermal barrier reducing the resistance of the device by 25 - 30%. SweGaN has also a technology to increase the mobility giving a further 25% decrease in resistance. Finally, SweGaN can provide material on the isotope enriched SiC which gives an additional 20% improvement leading to an efficiency improvement around 80% for AlGaN/GaN structures and 100% for InAlGaN/GaN structures. The material has been made but the verification is still on-going.
The impact this has is that more modules can be placed in a communication satellite increasing the capacity and improving profitability. This enables high speed internet for many more people in the world and also in remote areas at a reasonable cost. Using the same technology in the telecom sector significant reductions in the energy consumption/bit can be achieved. Today, the overall efficiency of a base station is about 25 - 30%. This can be increased to 50 - 60% using devices made on SweGaN's material. Using a higher frequency, the energy consumption/bit can be reduced by a factor of 20 - 100 (depending on the frequency).

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