Skip to main content

Millimetre wave Gallium Nitride Space evaluation and application to Observation Satellites

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MiGANSOS (Millimetre wave Gallium Nitride Space evaluation and application to Observation Satellites)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2019-06-30

"In the field of advanced technologies for RF components, use of Gallium Nitride (GaN) has been greatly pushed due to its inherent capability to provide simultaneously a power density up to 5 times higher than the well-assessed Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) and comparable noise performance. Such combination makes GaN attractive for many of the applications requiring miniaturization and efficiency. HEMT devices based on this technology have been developed with 0.5 and 0.25 µm gate lengths for applications up to X Band, while more recently the trend is reducing gate length to expand its applicability into the millimetre-wave range.
Focusing on space sector, the availability of high power devices operating at millimetre-wave frequencies is of primary importance for several applications in a medium/long term view.
As far as Earth observation systems are concerned, use of high operating frequencies and electronic functions realised on GaN-based MMIC technologies enables the development of very compact high resolution SAR for imagery or radar altimetric measurements. These new instruments create new opportunities for science, study of climate change and implementation of new complex systems for civil/security applications.
In the above scenario, the MiGaNSOS project focuses four objectives:
• First Objective is to assess and space-evaluate a ""state of the art"" GaN/Si process for open foundry use, leading to new industrial products greatly influencing European companies’ competitiveness. The process is the 100 nm GaN/Si technology developed by OMMIC.
• Second Objective consists in the demonstration of the simultaneous use of 100 nm and 60 nm GaN/Si technologies. This goal will be accomplished by integrating, into the same circuit, devices in both technologies. Such unique feature, unprecedented to date in available commercial foundry processes, represents a real technological breakthrough.
• Third objective resides in the demonstration of future application of the developed technologies in advanced space equipment by integrating the realised chips in a demonstrator replicating the basic building block (micro-tile) of a Ka Band active antenna.
• The fourth objective consists in disseminating the obtained results, making available the evaluated technology to the scientific and industrial communities and addressing new market opportunities.
All of the above objectives are able to provide a boost to European industriest and research community competitiveness, and as such, to provide a great impact not only at industrial and academic level, but also to new services and opportunities for european citizens."
MiGaNSOS is structured in 6 workpackages, each split into tasks. In the following, reference will be given to the approprate WP.
Two WPs are continuously running all through the project: WP1 (Project Management and Coordination) and WP6 (Dissemination and Exploitation).
Regarding WP1, whose main aim consists in the coordination of the technical activities and control of the financial flows, the activities carried out so far include the establishment of appropriate project relations and reporting to the Commission; moreover, an efficient communication system among partners has been set up, making use of a collaborative environment (EMDESK tool).
WP6 aims at maximizing the impact of MiGaNSOS by ensuring the take up of its outcomes in the European and Worldwide Space Industry. To this goal, the results are being disseminated to the Scientific & industrial communities and to Potential End-users community for the final demonstrator. Major outcomes include the setup and update of the project website, logo and templates for the presentation material. Moreover, MiGaNSOS partner teams attended and presented MiGaNSOS in several specific workshop and symposia, where the overall project has been illustrated together the first preliminary results. 4 MPW (multi-project wafer) runs have been launched with 3 being a mix of 100 and 60nm gate length designs. During the latter, 29 different patterns have been delivered for a total of 8 industrial customers and 5 universities, thus already exploiting technology diffusion.
Regarding state of the art continuous evaluation, OMMIC is confirmed today as the only source in Europe of commercially available and open millimetre wave GaN/Si processes. OMMIC solutions offers simultaneously a high power and a low noise process which is key for the realisation of any T/R chip. Overseas a significant competition is present, but power and low-noise are not offered on the same die making difficult the realisation of an excellent T/R chip. To date, therefore, OMMIC GaN D01GH and D006GH processes remain state-of-the-art solutions regarding T/R chips applications forming the base of the MiGaNSOS project.
Regarding strictly technical WPs, they are well in the middle of their activities. In particular WP2, dealing with technology characterisation and models extraction, already produced the first version of improved Process Design KITs (PDKs), both for the 100 and 60nm technologies, representing a key element for technology potentials exploitation via successful designs.
WP3, dedicated to circuit and test vehicles realisation, experienced the first loop (two in total). In particular, LNAs, HPA and SPDT switches have been designed, realised and tested, featuring state of the art performance in line with specifications. Elements will be further integrated in the second run, to provide a Single-Chip Front-End (SCFE). In the same WP, test vehicles to be used for space qualification heve been designed, realised and tested: DEC (discrete evaluation circuit), TCV (test characterisation vehicle) and RIC (representative integrated circuit) are now ready to be used within the reliability tests, planned in WP4.
WP4 is dedicated to the proper technological space evaluation, and the main achievement has been the release of the reliability test plan (actually undergoing a further refinement), detailing all the tests to be performed on DEC, TCV and RIC. Such test plan benefits from the feedback gathered by the project External Expert Advisory Board, formed by leading experts in the field from research community, companies and international bodies (ESA and CNES).
WP5, devoted to system demonstrator design and realisation, after a scenario and state of the art analysis, reached finally the system definition and specifications, ready therefore to the realisation of the demonstrator as soon as the single functionalities will be ready for integration.
MiGaNSOS, even being at in intermediate stage, already attained notable results. The first MMICs in fact exhibit performance at least in line with the state of the art, with peaks in the LNA dies. Similarly, the 100nm GaN/Si technology is already being diffused via MPW runs to spread out its use initially for prototyping among the industrial and academic communities.
Such results, to be confirmed and strenghtened till MiGaNSOS completion, will have major impacts. Millimeter-wave space systems, not only for Earth observation, but also for satellite communications, will benefit from a space-qualified fully European technology, that is at the current state of the art, thus allowing improved perfromance and, in turn, better and augmented services to the end-users in both domains. More compact systems wil be developed and complex architectures will be possible (e.g. compact high resolution SAR or Smart telecom coverage).
Website homepage