5G Diversification Projects

ORanGaN

  • Started on 1 Jan 2022

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  • Funding: £2,435,528
  • Location: Newport, Newcastle, County Durham
  • Partners: Inex Microtechnology Limited, Custom Interconnect Ltd, Viper RF Limited, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult Limited

The ORanGaN project will look to develop a sovereign UK supply chain, manufacturing processes, and packaging solutions, for radio frequency gallium nitride (RF-GaN) devices which are critical to 5G communications systems electronics hardware.

Almost every piece of 5G Open-RAN hardware requires multiple semiconductor switching devices to generate the RF signals being transmitted. GaN switching devices are used in a wide range of applications from consumer electronics to defence radar systems. GaN has become the technology of choice for 5G communications hardware due to its high frequency operation and high-power density.

GaN and other types of semiconductor switching devices are in high demand due to growth in new applications like 5G communications, electric vehicles, energy systems, computing and other applications. This high demand has led to a worldwide shortage of manufacturing and design capacity for semiconductors including GaN devices. There are no UK manufactured GaN devices suitable for 5G applications. All current 5G hardware uses semiconductor devices made offshore. RF-GaN MMIC’s are application specific devices that are designed for the specific use case using a software tool called a Product Development Kit (PDK)

UK manufacturing capability exists at INEX for RF-Gan devices used in Radar systems however working at the higher levels of precision required to operate in the frequency domain required for 5G Open-RAN devices requires smaller feature sizes (0.15µm) and a higher degree of control than for lower frequency radar applications (0.25µm). This project will deliver a new PDK, UK based manufacturing processes, facilities and device designs required by 5G capable 0.15µm GaN raw wafer and packaged devices and improved 0.25µm capability and capacity.

As a result, in addition to delivering a new UK supply chain for 5G capable RF-GaN devices, the project will also have the spin out benefit of improving UK capability for GaN device manufacture for other applications such as radar systems.


Project Overview from Innovation Briefing Issue 8

Almost every piece of 5G hardware requires multiple semiconductor switching devices to generate the signals being transmitted. Gallium nitride (GaN) switching devices are used in a wide range of applications from consumer electronics to defence radar systems. UK developed GaN technology is used in NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover.

GaN is set to become the technology of choice for 5G communications hardware due to its high frequency operation and high-power density.

The ORanGaN project will develop a sovereign UK supply chain, including manufacturing processes, and packaging solutions for radio frequency gallium nitride (RF-GaN) devices.

Manufacturing will take place at the chip Fab near Newcastle.

The project is led by INEX Microtechnology, working with Custom Interconnect, Viper RF and the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult.

High demand has led to a worldwide shortage of manufacturing and design capacity for semiconductors including GaN devices. Currently, there are no UK manufactured GaN devices suitable for 5G applications. All current 5G hardware uses semiconductor devices made offshore instead.

Inex manufactures RF-Gan devices used in radar systems, however working at the higher levels of precision required to work at 5G frequencies poses new challenges: it requires smaller feature sizes, and a higher degree of control than for lower frequency radar applications. This project will deliver a new UK based manufacturing processes, facilities and device designs required by 5G.

The project will enhance the UK’s manufacturing capacity for GaN devices in the mobile supply chain.

Issue 8 & More...

Organisations participating in this project

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