How GaN is Changing the Satcom RF Front-End

Solid-state technologies such as gallium nitride (GaN) are transforming satellite communications (satcom). GaN’s advantages of high RF power, low DC power consumption, high reliability and smaller size (which reduces system weight) are opening new markets and revolutionizing the RF front-end (RFFE) in existing satcom applications. For many years the traveling wave tube amplifier (TWTA) and gallium arsenide (GaAs) were the go-to RFFE technologies for power amplification in satcom – with TWTAs used for high-power applications and GaAs employed in lower-power applications and as a pre-driver. But the situation has changed rapidly in recent years, due to advancements in GaN. It has now been replacing TWTAs due to its high-power performance and reliability combined with a small form factor.