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Transphorm Wins $18.5M Contract From US DoD

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Office of Naval Research project to produce first commercialised nitrogen polar GaN for RF/mm-wave for DoD/5G

Transphorm has announced that the US Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Naval Research (ONR) has exercised a three-year $15.9 million option on an existing $2.6 million base contract with the company.

This contract, N68335-19-C-0107, administered by Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst establishes Transphorm as a US-based dedicated production source and supplier of GaN epiwafers for DoD and commercial RF/mm-wave and power electronics applications. The award comprises a base program for key technology development and an option program to establish production scale capability.

The program's core objective is to commercialise Nitrogen polar (N-polar) GaN, a breakthrough technology beyond the incumbent Ga-polar GaN. N-polar GaN holds significant promise for the continued advancement of GaN-based electronics, in today's RF electronics and future power conversion systems. The technology was invented under ONR and DARPA sponsorship at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) by the team of Umesh Mishra, distinguished professor at UCSB and Transphorm's co-ffunder, CTO and chairman.

“The N-polar orientation of the material is reversed from the traditional Ga-polar GaN currently being widely used in basestation and DoD applications. The flip produces radical benefits in output power, along with groundbreaking efficiencies to frequencies as high as 94 GHz,” said Mishra. “Applications span the frequency range of interest for 5G, 6G and beyond, and also fill a critical technological void for DoD systems.”

At 94 GHz, Mishra's UCSB team has demonstrated mm-wave devices with record power densities and high efficiencies. These devices simplify RF electronic systems by reducing the need for power combining multiple components and devices, while also simplifying cooling systems, ultimately resulting in higher performance at reduced cost.

Currently in production with several customers, Transphorm says its success is driven by a vertically-integrated business approach, expertise, IP, and, particularly, a solid MOCVD epi growth platform with production scale. With this ONR program, the company will address epi capability on multiple platforms, including SiC, Si, and Sapphire substrates ranging from 4-inch to 6-inch and ultimately 8-inch wafers. In the RF and mm-wave area, Transphorm will be a pure play epiwafer supplier focused solely on GaN materials.

“We are excited to partner with the ONR and DoD to commercialise our high performance GaN HEMT IP and epitaxy capability, specifically via the breakthrough N-polar and Ga-polar materials on various substrates, including SiC, sapphire, and silicon,” said Primit Parikh, co-founder and COO, Transphorm. “This enables Transphorm to grow an adjacent vertical, that of epiwafer sales for DoD customers and fast-growing RF/5G markets. We are already seeing demand and are excited to go from purchase to production in less than 36 months, a key program goal.”


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