Making DREaM Come True for DARPA

The DREAM program aims to dramatically improve management of the electromagnetic spectrum from radio communications to radar. © HRL Laboratories.

HRL Laboratories Aims to Develop Ultra-linear GaN Transistors to Enable the Next Generation of Millimeter-Wave Devices

HRL Laboratories, LLC, has received an award from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) to develop the next generation of gallium nitride (GaN) transistors with dramatically improved linearity and noise figure at reduced power consumption for use in electronic devices that manage the electromagnetic spectrum from radio communications to radar.

With the Dynamic Range-enhanced Electronics and Materials (DREaM) program, DARPA is seeking new designs and materials for radio frequency transistors with breakthrough dynamic range in millimeter-wave (mm-wave) systems. The goals of the HRL’s efforts under the DREaM program are to develop advanced ultra-linear GaN transistors working in mm-wave frequencies that enable transmission and reception without distortion across the spectrum. These transistors will enable secure ultra-wideband communications with higher data rates, while reducing their draw on the prime power source of their eventual platforms, such as ships or aircraft.

“For this project we will research novel materials and devices to develop ultra-linear GaN transistors with manufacturability,” said Jeong-sun Moon, HRL Laboratories’ principal investigator on the DREaM program. “Our goal is to break the historic gap of the 10 decibel rule of thumb in semiconductor transistor’s linearity figure-of-merit, which is linearity divided by DC power consumption, by 100 times. Spectrally pure linear amplification requires prime power consumption, so the power saving enabled by this improvement will be huge, while meeting the demand of modern communications for wider bandwidths and higher data rates, including 5G wireless communication.”

Joining Moon on the HRL Laboratories team are Joel Wong and Andrea Corrion.

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HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California ( is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

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