Programme Element: ARTES 5.1
Reference nr.: 13.1TT.36
Planned Tender Issue: quarter 3, 2013
The objective is to develop a switching Field-Effect Transistor (FET) controller and driver for fast DC/DC converters, for envelope tracking and Class S solid-state power amplifiers (SSPA), capable of covering switching frequencies from 10 MHz to 2 GHz. The aim is to develop the chip based on an appropriate ARTES participating states semi-conductor process (BiCMOS, SiGe, AsGa, GaN) that is able to comply with radiation hardness requirements.
Targeted Improvements: Increased SSPA efficiency through the application of envelope tracking techniques, facilitated by the development of an ARTES participating states-based switching FET controller capable of operating with a switching frequency in the range 10 MHz - 2 GHz.
High frequency switching FET controllers and drivers are currently the subject of intense developments in industry with several fields of application:
- More compact DC/DC converters featuring higher switching frequencies for consumer electronics (10-100 MHz).
- Envelope tracking amplifiers based on DC/DC topologies (switching frequency 100-300 MHz) for RF applications in the field of telecommunication space borne SSPAs. Efficiency improvement is achieved through variable power supply operation.
- Class S amplifiers (switching frequencies 1-2 GHz or more) to improve the efficiency of telecom space borne SSPAs directly by operating RF transistors in switch mode (as in DC/DC converters).
In such designs, the two main critical building blocks are:
- The GaN switch device, which can be implemented either in a DC/DC converter or in an RF amplifier (digital and/or linear operation).
- The switching FET circuit used to drive the GaN switching device.
In order to complement the on-going activities on the evaluation of GaN devices for RF SSPA and DC/DC converter applications, switching FET circuits capable of interfacing with these devices are required. Today, no circuit with the required performance in terms of speed, input/output gain and power consumption capability is available in ARTES participating states for space applications. Developments are on-going in U.S, but creating a potentially critical dependence. Furthermore, new design concepts (patent pending) can enable higher frequency operation without compromising the switching FET power consumption.
The work shall be carried out as follows:
- Review of the latest switching FET circuit design concepts that feature low power consumption and higher frequency operation.
- Selection of the appropriate technology (e.g. BiCMOS, SiGe, AsGa, GaN) with a suitable industrial and qualification background for space applications.
- Design of a very low power consumption switching FET circuit for driving normally ON/normally OFF GaN devices for DC/DC converters, as well as for envelope tracking and Class S RF amplifiers.
- Manufacture and testing of a switching FET circuit in a breadboard environment.