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Speeding up the commercialization of 5G, Jiangsu Province has tackled the “Gallium Nitride (GaN) Millimeter Wave Power Amplifier” chip!

Aiming at the major needs of the country, universities and enterprises cooperate with each other to overcome the difficulties of technological innovation with “endogenous” power. Recently, the project “Gallium Nitride Medium and high frequency chip design and “Research on key technologies of preparation process”, which was selected as a provincial key research and development plan project.

Led by the needs of enterprises and relying on the technical support of the State Key Laboratory of Millimeter Waves, School of Information Science and Engineering, Southeast University, this project aims to break through the chip design and process of “millimeter wave power amplifiers”, improve efficiency and expand bandwidth, in order to promote 5G The large-scale commercialization of mmWave plays a key role.

Compared with 4G, 5G has the characteristics of high speed and large capacity, but the base station array for sending and receiving signals is also denser, ensuring efficient signal transmission and low delay, which is the key to the stable operation of 5G communication system.

“This requires the power amplifier of the base station to have higher efficiency and higher integration.” Zhu Xiaowei, a professor at the School of Information Science and Engineering of Southeast University, told reporters that in 3G and 4G communication systems, since the wavelength of the signal is at the centimeter level, the circuit’s The size is larger, the power density is correspondingly lower, and the circuit design and fabrication process are easy to implement; however, in the 5G world under the millimeter wave, since the wavelength of the signal has been reduced to the millimeter level, the electrical parameter sensitivity and power density have greatly increased, not only It is necessary to increase the chip integration by more than an order of magnitude, and to use the third-generation semiconductor gallium nitride process and millimeter-wave circuit technology to improve the working efficiency and working bandwidth of the power amplifier chip, and output high-power broadband millimeter-wave signals.

From the centimeter level to the millimeter level, between the millimeter, there is a huge technological leap to be achieved, which needs to “dance” on the “chip”. On the one hand, in order to adapt to the development of “5G millimeter wave”, power amplifiers are required to have high efficiency and high integration; on the other hand, looking at the world, the chip design of millimeter wave power amplifiers has indeed become a trend in the past two or three years. “Watershed”, Chinese scientists must keep an eye on the big picture and not be left behind.

The enterprise side is the first to perceive this technology trend keenly. Suzhou Nengxun High Energy Semiconductor Co., Ltd. proposed the need for technical cooperation. Dongda “accepted the order”, relying on the expert resources of the State Key Laboratory of Millimeter Wave, to precisely tackle key problems and independently develop the 0.15um process. GaN millimeter-wave power amplifier chip.

Zhang Lei, one of the project leaders and associate professor of the School of Information Science and Engineering of Southeast University, introduced that this “power amplifier chip” has two key indicators: improving efficiency and broadening bandwidth. The R&D team made breakthroughs in circuit and process design.

In terms of circuit structure design, by studying the equivalent gate width technology, three-way circuit architecture and equivalent quarter-wavelength lines, the efficiency of the “power amplifier chip” is improved, the integration level is improved, and the working bandwidth is broadened. However, it is not easy to realize this technical blueprint. The preparation process of 0.15um gallium nitride is extremely demanding, just like “embroidery” on the tip of a needle. A slight deviation will affect the performance indicators of the power amplifier chip. Suzhou Nengxun High Energy Semiconductor Company promotes the “artisan” “Spirit, the development of the 0.15um gallium nitride process line is underway. After completion, the millimeter wave power amplifier will be put into tape-out to promote the 5G millimeter wave into the commercialization stage.

Through the interview, the reporter deeply felt that to open up the innovation chain, it is still necessary to insist that the enterprise is the main body and improve the ability and willingness of enterprise innovation, so as to facilitate the creation of new innovation test fields. In addition, supporting major platforms such as the State Key Laboratory will also provide strong technical support for the in-depth integration of production, education and research, and accumulate continuous momentum for regional innovation. The synergy between the two can make a beautiful “combination punch” and win the marketization of new technologies. time.

In recent years, the State Key Laboratory of Millimeter Wave has taken the lead in completing the National 973 Project, the National Major Special Project, the National Natural Science Foundation of China Innovation Group Scientific Research Fund (Phase I, Phase II), the National 863 Project and other major national projects. Dozens of scientific research awards, such as Natural Science Award, National Science and Technology Progress Award, Provincial and Ministerial Science and Technology Progress Award, etc. At present, in order to meet the major needs of the country and the needs of enterprise innovation and development, the laboratory is focusing on 5G large-scale arrays, millimeter-wave multi-channel circuit chips, and automotive radar.