S. Korea pushes for localization of X-band monolithic microwave integrated circuit based on gallium nitride

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : January 20, 2021, 10:02 | Updated : January 20, 2021, 10:02

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SEOUL -- As an important defense project that will have a trickle-down effect on the private sector, South Korea will push for the localization of an X-band monolithic microwave integrated circuit based on gallium nitride that is used for radars, satellite communication and 5G mobile communication.

The decision was made on January 19 at an online conference involving top officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Defense Ministry, the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

"The military will become a testing ground for high-tech technologies, quickly applying outstanding civilian technologies to the defense sector and actively transferring high-tech defense technologies to the private sector to create a synergy effect," said Defense Minister Suh Wook.

The monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) operates at microwave frequencies. The device typically performs functions such as microwave mixing, power amplification, low-noise amplification, and high-frequency switching.

Gallium nitride (GaN) offers promising characteristics for terahertz (THz) devices. THz is a unit of frequency defined as one trillion cycles per second. Due to high power density and voltage breakdown limits, GaN is emerging as a promising candidate for 5G cellular base station applications. GaN transistors make ideal power amplifiers at microwave frequencies.

The GaN-based power amplifier MMIC is applied in a variety of X-band radar applications. X band is the designation for a band of frequencies in the microwave radio region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The X band is used for radar, satellite communication, and wireless computer networks. Its shorter wavelengths allow for higher resolution imagery. X band radar frequency sub-bands are used in civil, military, and government institutions for weather monitoring, air traffic control, maritime vessel traffic control and defense tracking.
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