Stacked-FET based GaAs monolithic microwave high-power amplifiers for active electronically scanned array radar front-ends

Gijsbert van der Bent

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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    The High Power Amplifier (HPA) is a key component for any modern Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar front-end, both in terms of costs and performance. The task of this HPA is to generate the high level of required output power with an efficiency that results in feasible requirements for the cooling of the system. This must be combined with a reasonable cost price and reliable operation.
    To increase the supply voltage of a radar front-end yields several advantages. At the system level, lower DC currents are present, resulting in lower losses in the supply lines. On transistor level, the real part of the optimum load impedance is higher, which eases the matching problem, resulting in matching networks with higher bandwidth or lower loss. State of the art technologies based on wide-bandgap materials such as GaN, support the requirements for high supply voltages. The cost of these technologies, however, is significantly higher than the GaAs technologies, while the latter still have a more proven record of reliability.
    The research question addressed in this thesis is whether the advantages of an increased supply voltage can be obtained without the use of a wide-bandgap semiconductor technology, specifically by the application of the Stacked-FET technique. At the heart of this approach is a single Common Source (CS) FET, followed by one or more Degenerated Common Gate (DCG) FETs. Stacking a number of transistors linearly increases the overall breakdown voltage and hence the possible drain supply voltage, providing the previously mentioned advantages. An additional benefit of the Stacked-FET concept is due to the internal power combining by voltage summation, which decreases the chip the area required for passive combining networks.
    The reported results demonstrate that GaAs Stacked-FET power amplifiers, designed according to the strategy defined in this thesis, can deliver an output power in excess of 25 W with a PAE higher than 40 % over a bandwidth of 30 % at S-band frequencies. With this RF performance, these devices can be competitive to many GaN based amplifiers, at significantly lower costs.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • van Vliet, Frank E., Supervisor
    Award date3 May 2019
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-4766-6
    Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2019


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