This series of blogs deals with the possible applications of GaN material especially for 5G applications. There are many important companies operating in the electronics field that are massively investing in GaN technology:
“ Players with a UK presence that are already involved in designs for 5G infrastructure include Teledyne, which is working with a Tier 1 vendor on E-band fixed wireless access” and Filtronic Broadband, which has designed a 26GHz 5G front-end module platform in collaboration with Plextek RFI as well as working on high-capacity E-band and W-band backhaul for 5G.” (Source: Innovate UK)
GaN material has very good performance in terms of high power density, power added efficiency (PAE), gain, and ease in impedance matching, which improves overall efficiency in the RF chain, these features are really important for the 5G mmWave bands: (see Figure 1)
“Millimeter waves (mmWaves) refer to the range of the electromagnetic spectrum which includes wavelengths from 1 – 10 mm, corresponding to a frequency range of 30 –300 GHz. However, in the context of 5G, the term mmWave often stretches to include slightly lower frequencies (down to about 24 GHz, which corresponds to a wavelength of 12.5 mm), to incorporate all viable 5G frequency bands. 5G networks are not expected to employ mmWaves higher than 100 GHz (i.e., lower than 3 mm). Most current wireless technology utilizes significantly longer wavelengths than mmWaves. For example, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth both employ the 2.4 GHz ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical) band to broadcast signals, meaning they use wavelengths of 125 mm. Even longer wavelengths are used in AM radio broadcasting, which can utilize waves as long as 2 km …. Fortunately, because of its promise for 5G networks and other applications, mmWave research is well underway. In the past several years, many proof-of-concept mmWave systems have been designed and prototyped, and have demonstrated the effectiveness of mmWave systems in the field…. The downside of mmWaves’ promise for future 5G networks is that licensed mmWave spectrum has begun to be dominated by large ISPs, like Verizon and AT&T in the U.S. Viable 5G mmWave bands are unfairly dominated by these providers; collectively, they own 55% and 66% of the popular 28 and 39 GHz bands, respectively. … However, the good news is that unlicensed and lightly-licensed mmWave spectrum, such as the 60 GHz V-Band and 70/80 GHz E-Band, can provide the benefits of mmWaves without the prohibitive costs of licensed spectrum. This allows smaller ISPs to stay competitive amidst the monopolistic practices of larger providers.” (Source: MARAVEDIS)
The range of application frequencies is progressively growing and the contribution of GaN may help this trend. For example, one of the emerging applications in electronics technology is the Internet of Things (IoT) which utilizes Wi-Fi SoCs IoT platforms, like the QCA402x made by the https://www.qualcomm.com/ Qualcomm Company showed in the following Figure 2:
The QCA402x Block Diagram shows an SoC able to work at the 2.4 to 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency range, (QCA4020 only) (Source: Qualcomm)
The possibilities that new substrates like the GaN offer are many; do you believe in the potential of this substrate for electronics? What experiences have you had with GaN?