RaytheonRaytheon Co. recently received a $14.9 million contract from the United States Air Force Research Laboratory and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to further enhance its process for fabricating discrete devices and monolithic integrated circuits (ICs) based on gallium-nitride (GaN) semiconductor materials. These wide-bandgap materials are capable of producing high signal power levels at microwave through millimeter-wave frequencies with relatively high efficiency.

The new contract agreement follows a previous GaN Title III contract, completed in 2013, with the additional investment intended to improve performance, reliability, and yield of the high-power microwave semiconductors. The high-power GaN devices are used in a wide range of defense circuits and systems, including radars as well as the U.S. Navy’s Air and Missile Defense Radar and Next Generation Jammer.

Colin Whelan, vice president of advanced technology in Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business unit, explains: “We have only scratched the surface when it comes to harnessing the game-changing power that gallium nitride technology can bring to military applications.” For the progress that the new contract allows, he notes: “This contract will build on the 17-year, $200-plus million investment Raytheon has made in maturing GaN. Over the next two years, we will further refine our GaN process to push the limits of radio frequency performance while maintaining or increasing yield and reliability.”

The first demonstrator of this technology will be incorporated into Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems' Next Generation Jammer program, which is scheduled for low-rate initial production in 2018.