Design of an X-band GaN based microstrip MMIC power amplifier
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RF power amplifiers are crucial components of modern radar and communication systems. However, their design poses some challenges due to device limitations in high power and high frequency regime, as well as inherent difficulties of designing for nonlinear large-signal device operation. Gallium Nitride (GaN) based High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMT) are promising candidates due to their superior material qualities, high power densities and ability to operate up to mm-wave frequencies. In this thesis, 0.25 μm GaN on SiC microfabrication process of Bilkent University Nanotechnology Research Center (NANOTAM) is presented. Transistor characterization procedure is demonstrated. Ideal transistor layout for design goals is selected and the transistor gate structure is optimized for X-band performance. A model library for microstrip passive circuit elements based on electromagnetic simulations has been developed. Finally, design and measurements of an X-band microstrip Class AB two-stage Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) PA, based on the same process are presented in detail. With die sizes smaller than 4.3 mm by 2.3 mm, fabricated MMICs operate at 8.5 - 11.5 GHz band with 24 dB small-signal gain. More than 13.5 W (41.3 dBm) output power (P6dB) and 31 - 38 % power-added efficiency are achieved throughout the 8.5 - 11 GHz band in pulsed mode on-wafer measurements.