by Liam Devlin, CEO, PRFI
MPD: Many technologies are driving RF and microwave technologies today. Which ones do you feel are the most important as it concerns your company’s work?
Recent developments in GaN device technology are having a significant impact on our approach to developing Solid State Power Amplifier (SSPA) modules. We see a move to higher supply voltages, with many devices now operating with a 50 VDC supply. This higher voltage supply leads to higher RF output power capabilities, but increased power densities within the devices and increased thermal management challenges, which open up the possibility of designing smaller, higher power amplifiers with the need to ensure that the thermal design of the module allows the device to operate with an acceptable junction temperature.
MPD: If your company serves the defense market, what are you working on (that you can talk about)?
PRFI provides design services to both defense and commercial markets. Recent defense contracts have included the development of high-power GaAs PA MMICs for phased array radar and the development of solid-state connectorized power amplifier modules with very high RF power. They were developed in GaAs technology rather than GaN as they needed to fit an existing system with DC power supplies designed for GaAs technology. We’ve also developed custom GaAs MMICs with client-defined functionality. This design work has resulted in some high-performance products for our clients.
MPD: Technology appears to have advanced to the point where millimeter-wave deployment on a wide scale is possible. What is your perspective on this?
The availability of large contiguous bands of millimeter-wave spectrum offers wideband, high-data-rate transmission for applications like 5G, satellite communications, and automotive radar. This is driving the development of low-cost millimeter-wave components that are now available in SMT packages suitable for high-volume assembly. Despite widespread availability of millimeter-wave-capable 5G phones, it still accounts for just a tiny fraction of cellular data usage. This is partly due to advances in sub-6 GHz 5G technology that increase the data rate in that part of the spectrum where wireless connections tend to suffer fewer propagation issues.