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EpiGaN GaN/Si RF Material Technology at the Core of EU 5G Project SERENA

Hasselt, Belgium, February 28, 2018 — EpiGaN, a leading European supplier of GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology solutions for power switching, RF (radio frequency) and sensor applications, has a key position in the new EU research project SERENA (“gan-on-Silicon Efficient mm-wave euRopean systEm iNtegration platform”). SERENA sets out to develop a beamforming system platform for mm-wave multi-antenna arrays and to enable the functional performance of a hybrid analog/digital signal processing architecture beyond mainstream CMOS integration. SERENA started in January 2018 will run for 36 months.

The objective of SERENA is a proof-of-concept prototype for optimizing the power efficiency and cost of mm-wave multi-antenna array systems. The SERENA architecture will be suitable for a wide range of applications such as safety radar, high-speed wireless communications, as well as imaging sensors for 5G and autonomous vehicles, all of which rely on active antenna arrays and electronic beam steering. The fundamental challenge is to produce high-performance antenna systems for the mm-wave range at viable price-points and low energy consumption.

The SERENA value chain will be based on breakthroughs in Gallium Nitride on Silicon (GaN-on-Si) technology and state-of-the-art volume packaging. These elements are contributed by EpiGaN through its GaN epi-wafer technology. EpiGaN’s GaN epi-wafer technology with its pioneering in-situ SiN capping layer provides superior surface passivation and device reliability. Plus, it enables contamination-free processing in existing standard Si-CMOS infrastructures. In-situ SiN structuring allows the use of pure and ultra-thin AlN layers as barrier materials. By reducing the short-channel transistor effects this results in superior mmW performance.

“RF-GaN technology offers crucial performance advantages over incumbent LDMOS or GaAs technologies, such as greater bandwidth and energy efficiency,” comments EpiGaN CEO Dr Marianne Germain. “Our GaN-on-Si technology delivers excellent power density and power-added efficiency (PAE), superior gain, and low RF losses up to 100GHz. By starting out with a fundamentally better semiconductor technology specifically designed for the mm-wave range, our customers realize superior and differentiating device performance for multiple RF applications.”

GaN is a key enabler of 5G wireless communication. 5G requires exceptionally high-speed connections for multimedia streaming, virtual reality, M2M, or autonomous driving. A fully developed IoT will experience lower latency and promote both spectrum and en­ergy efficiency. To realize these benefits, 5G sys­tems need to rely on new semiconductor technologies – such as GaN – to fuel these ground-breaking innovations.
The SERENA consortium unifies ten major industrial and academic partners: TECHNIKON GmbH/Austria (project leader), Ericsson AB/Sweden, Infineon Technologies Austria AG/Austria, EpiGaN NV/Belgium, Ommic SAS/France, Totalförsvarets Forskningsinstitut/Sweden, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft/Germany, Institute of Communication and Computer Systems/Greece, Chalmers Tekniska Högskola AB/Sweden, and Technische Universität Berlin/Germany.

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