Asia Silicon Valley

Industrialization of High-frequency and High-power Gallium Nitride Key Components for Next-Generation Communication Applications

Principal Investigator:Edward Yi Chang, Prof. of National Chiao Tung University

The rapid evolution of the wireless communication system as well as new multi-media applications have set the stringent requirements for transistors in terms of their operating frequencies and output power levels. For example, very wide bandwidth is a must for the next-generation communication systems in order to provide satisfactory service to mobile users. Such service mainly involves maintaining high data-rate of transmission with extremely high mobility. Since the spectrum allocation at the low-frequency bands for commercial applications has saturated, the only possibility to obtain a “clean” and wide enough bandwidth for system implementation is to operate the system at a relative high frequency, mostly in the millimeter-wave range. Due to the drastic increase in frequency and output power, devices using conventional technologies can no longer meet system requirements. Instead, Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology with both high breakdown voltage and electron mobility has become the mainstream one for the next-generation communication systems. In contrast to the fact that local industries do not involve too much in this new area, our team has devoted on GaN-related research topics for years. As a matter of fact, we are the only local team that owns the very complete technology line-up from the epitaxial engineering all the way through to the backend device processing capabilities. The performance of our devices have been globally recognized and positioned among the world-leading teams. Based on our engineering expertise, the main objective of this proposal is to industrialize the in-house technology. Through intensive cooperation with the competitive semiconductor industry locally, we believe that we can catch the hype of the large-scale deployment of next-generation communication systems and be a key player in the GaN-related semiconductor industry.

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Team Introduction

The team comprises with experts from various technical backgrounds covering material engineering, epitaxy growth, device process, characterization, and circuit design with high-frequency packaging.  Other than outstanding academic achievements, most of the key personnel have extensive practical experience from industry. With such practical experience, the technical team will be able to combine individual talents with the competitive edge of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to create next generation GaN-related industry.

Edward Yi Chang, Chairman and the leader of the team, got his PhD degree from U of Minnesota in USA in the area of Material Science Engineering. His main expertise falls in the categories of III-V related device technologies including power, high-frequency, and high-speed applications. Dr. Chang started his research in III-V related fields from 1985 when he started his career in Unisys. Till now, he has more than 30 year experience dedicated in compound semiconductor industry.

Goals and Plan
Entry Barrier

Our team emphasizes the development of GaN HEMT for high power applications at high frequencies toward millimeter wave range. With the evolution of the next generation communication systems beyond 4G, replacement of the current LDMOS technology has been an important issue in view of the limited power output performance at high frequencies. High power density GaN-based technology has become the mainstream technology to solve for the limited power delivered from existing semiconductor technologies at millimeter wave frequencies. Currently, the main challenge in delivering enough power at frequencies above X-band for GaN-based device technology lies in the process of gate length scaling. Thus, it is our target to address such area of applications where a balanced performance between high frequency and high breakdown voltage is desired.

Market Scope

With the large scale deployment of the 5G system on the way, we expect to target our main market in the following categories:

    1. Replacement of the current power amplifiers for 4G systems and beyond:The number of Macro-cell base station for 4G system is expected to grow from 0.6M to 0.8M, corresponding to 33% rate of increase. For better signal coverage, epeaters and mass deployment of micro/femto/pico-cells will be necessary. The anticipated market of outdoor micro/femto/pico-cells will exceed USD 2.5 billion by 2019.
    2. Super Wi-Fi systems operating at high frequencies: Super WiFi system is expected to adopt 60 GHz transceivers for last-mile high-speed data transmission, featuring a boost of market up to USD 6M in 2020.
Video Introduction