NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 O1.05-9304
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Long Range Space RF Telecommunications
PROPOSAL TITLE: X-Band GaN Power Amplifiers for Long Range Space RF Telecommunications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Nitronex Corp
2305 Presidential Dr
Durham, NC 27703 - 8039
(919) 807-9100

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Alan Victor
2305 Presidential Dr
Durham, NC 27703 - 8039
(919) 807-9100

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The future capabilities of sensors and instrumentation deployed in space will continue to increase, resulting in increasing amounts of collected data. To reach these higher speed data rates, increases to the overall system gain of the communication link will be required. A deterministic method to increase system gain of a RF communication link is to provide higher transmitted RF power. However, with this higher RF output power also comes the challenge of maximizing power efficiency and reducing the size weight and power (SWAP) of the power amplifier (PA) for long-range space missions.

The innovation will be to develop a Solid-State Power Amplifier (SSPA) that produces 50 W of linear RF at X-Band (8.4 GHz) with high DC-to-RF-efficiency (> 60%) and low mass. The significance will be the utilization of wide band-gap RF semiconductors to efficiently create high RF power that is robust to the high radiation environments of space. A wide band-gap compound semiconductor material such as Gallium Nitride (GaN) will provide this required innovation.

GaN-based Field Effect Transistors (FETs) have the potential to operate at power densities of up to 10 times that of conventional RF semiconductor technologies, which will enable compact PAs with higher RF output power to be implemented. The proposed GaN PA design is estimated to be >50% smaller in both size and weight compared to other solid state solutions and almost 20% lower in power consumption for typical designs used in long-range space RF Telecommunications.

In summary, Applying novel GaN semiconductor materials in innovative PA designs are required for long-range space RF communication systems to fully reach their performance potential and to reduce their SWAP.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
By developing a reliable GaN based SSPA with linear 50W RF output power and >60% efficiency at frequencies between 8 to 9 GHz, the SWAP of future long-range communication equipment will be significantly decreased. Also the data rates of long–range X-Band communication links will be increased by >30% relative to the technology utilized today. Thus, a robust GaN based MMIC design is the primary focus for this project and can commercially be leveraged by NASA for other long-range space RF communication systems.

Additionally, at the completion of Phase II of this proposed project it is anticipated to have experimental data on the radiation hardness of Nitronex GaN RF devices. This data and the validation of GaN 50 W MMIC to be radiation hardened will be of commercial value.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The development and manufacture of Gallium Nitride (GaN) FETs for commercial and military RF applications is the core business for Nitronex Corporation. Specifically, the development of our GaN technology for use in high RF power, broad bandwidth under relatively stringent operating requirements, e.g., military applications, as well as, WiMAX, W-CDMA and LTE, is of primary importance.

Nitronex will push the development of GaN based MMIC and hybrid PAs, LNAs, T/R switches, mixers, gain blocks and other circuits that exploit the high performance and low cost platform developed at Nitronex. Therefore, the work proposed in this Phase I, II and a potential Phase III follow-on effort is well aligned with our future technology and product development commercialization roadmaps.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Active Systems
Circuits (including ICs; for specific applications, see e.g., Communications, Networking & Signal Transport; Control & Monitoring, Sensors)
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Power Combiners/Splitters
Processing Methods
Project Management
Software Tools (Analysis, Design)
Telemetry/Tracking (Cooperative/Noncooperative; see also Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43