NEC rolls out GaN power transistor amplifiers

August 18, 2006 – NEC Corp. says it has successfully developed a compact gallium nitride (GaN) power transistor amplifier for 3G base stations, with record power output of 400W with low-distortion characteristics.

The device, composed of a single transistor package, achieves high output density under high-current (1A/mm) and high-voltage (45V) operation thanks to NEC’s “field plate modulation” technology, which reduces electric field strength at the gate edge, resulting in improved breakdown voltage. GaN epitaxial wafers were developed under the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization’s “High-Power, High-Frequency Gallium Nitride Device Project,” and manufactured by Toyoda Gosei Co Ltd.

“The need to achieve a large-capacity and high-speed system is becoming more crucial with the rapid increase in traffic accompanying the swelling number of 3G mobile subscribers and increasingly sophisticated and diversified 3G services worldwide,” according to NEC, in a statement. Conventional amplifiers using silicon LDMOS or GaN transistors require power-combining circuits due to small output power, thus increasing the device’s size and reducing power.

The device “will play an important role in increasing output power, as well as downsizing and energy savings of base station amplifiers for the third generation and beyond,” stated the company. NEC noted that the device development is still considered in the R&D stage, with early commercialization projected for late 2008.

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