Honors for Groundbreaking GaN
Raytheon’s Unique Semiconductor Technology Wins Prestigious Innovation Award
Let Hollywood have its Oscars. The aerospace and defense industries have their own honors: the Laureate Awards from Aviation Week.
The publication has named Raytheon Company a 2015 Laureate winner for its innovative technology incorporating gallium nitride into military radars. The material – often referred to simply as GaN for its chemical symbols – is used to amplify radio energy for radars, jammers and other devices.
The annual awards, which honor extraordinary accomplishments in science and technology, are celebrated with a red-carpet-worthy event at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
"The award recognizes Raytheon as an innovator for our groundbreaking work on GaN technology," said Thomas A. Kennedy, Raytheon's chief executive officer. "This is a very prestigious honor, since Laureate Awards are only given out for the most extraordinary achievements in our industry."
Radio frequency amplifiers made with gallium nitride are five times more powerful than the ones in radars using traditional semiconductors.
"The greater sensitivity for an antenna array built with GaN components means it can detect, discriminate and track objects at much further distances," said Mike Borkowski, a technical director at Raytheon.
The technology also enables the company to reduce the size of a system's antenna, which improves transportability and reduces lifecycle and procurement costs without sacrificing performance.
"We are honored to be recognized for our advancements in GaN technology and for demonstrating how GaN can benefit defense systems across all domains," said Mark Russell, Raytheon's vice president of Engineering, Technology and Mission Assurance.
In mid-2013, Raytheon demonstrated that its GaN exceeds the government's strict reliability requirements for insertion into military systems. That earned the company's GaN a Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) production capability of "8," the highest rating obtained by any organization in the defense industry for gallium nitride. (MRL is a measure used by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to assess the maturity of manufacturing readiness with new technologies.)
Since then, Raytheon has incorporated GaN into a number of products, including its new active electronically scanned array radar for the Patriot air and missile defense system.
Gallium nitride is also a key feature of the Air and Missile Defense Radar, a scalable radar for the U.S. Navy that significantly increases the threat detection abilities of ships, and the Next Generation Jammer, an airborne electronic attack system used to disrupt enemy radars.
"When Raytheon began investing in GaN 15 years ago, we weren't sure of its full potential," said Paul Ferraro, Raytheon's vice president of Advanced Technology Programs. "It took multiple studies over many years to mature GaN into the robust technology discriminator we have today."
The company continues to advance the development of GaN at its Department of Defense-accredited Radio Frequency Components Foundry in Andover, Mass.