Compound Semiconductors: From Oddity to Commodity

Curt Barratt
RF Micro Devices, Greensboro, NC

Keywords:Manufacturing, GaAs, cost, integration.

INTRODUCTION
GaAs RF devices have been available for many years. The first applications were for two terminal devices such as Gunn diodes, impatt diodes, tuning varactors and mixers. These devices found high value applications in military and telecom-munications systems where there unique performance characteristics differentiated them from competitive offerings. The transferred electron or “Gunn” effect allowed that a two terminal device in the appropriate circumstance could directly generate RF energy from DC. Impatt Diodes could also directly convert DC to RF energy at higher efficiency and were ideal for missile seekers. With the higher electron mobility of GaAs, varactors and mixers could be fabricated with higher Q factors justifying the added cost of the GaAs components when compared with silicon. These businesses were differentiated and grew but did not support predictions of explosive growth.
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