The best solid-state, high power amplifiers (HPAs), especially those used in critical defense, aerospace, and weather-radar applications, start with the right choice of discrete or integrated RF power transistors. Several active device semiconductor technologies are available today to amplify pulsed and continuous-wave (CW) signals across narrow or wide bandwidths from HF/VHF/UHF to L-, S-, C-, and X-band frequencies and beyond. Depending upon frequency, bandwidth, and other requirements, each transistor technology offers its own set of performance benefits in terms of output power, gain, and efficiency.
But evaluating the tradeoffs related to cost and value can be a daunting task. This whitepaper is intended to give a head start. It will explain the key things to look for, and the advantages and disadvantages of each technology, while providing a few examples of ideal fits for certain types of applications at different frequencies, and under different waveform conditions.