Design and development of X-band GaN-based low-noise amplifiers
Gallium nitride (GaN) high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) technology emerged as a preferable candidate for high-power applications. GaN HEMTs on silicon carbide (SiC) substrate provide the best combination of speed and power due to high power density, escalated saturated carrier velocity, high efficiency, enhanced electrical breakdown, and superior thermal conductivity. Over the years, GaN technology also started to take its place in low-noise applications due to built-in power handling capability at the receive end of transceivers for compact designs and high linearity. For GaN-based low-noise amplifiers (LNAs), improving the noise figure (NF) and getting it close to other competitive technologies is always challenging. More-over, further improvement in the robustness of GaN-based LNAs in terms of survivability and reverse recovery time (RRT) is needed. For this purpose, NAN-OTAM’s 0.15 µm GaN on SiC HEMT process is used to realize LNAs, one with survivability as high as 42 dBm and the other having NF as low as 1.2 dB. Survivability is investigated in terms of gain compression and forward gate current, while RRT is explored in detail with respect to the RC time constant of transistor and trap phenomenon. In the LNA design, the significance of inductive source degenerated HEMT, and the role of stability networks towards NF improvement are discussed in detail. Furthermore, thermal simulations and infrared (IR) thermographic measurements of the LNA monolithic microwave integrated circuit are correlated to unveil the maximum channel temperature buried inside the two-dimensional electron gas of HEMT.