Torrance, CA, United States

QuinStar Technology, Inc.

www.quinstar.com
Torrance, CA, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.87K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:QuinStar Technology proposes to develop a high-efficiency, linear, solid-state power amplifier (SSPA), operating at Ka-band frequencies, for low-cost ground terminals. The key performance goals are an output power of 70 W with an associated PAE of 35%, while operating with complex modulation. These goals will be achieved by employing three major innovations. First, we are employing state-of-the-art wide bandgap GaN (Gallium Nitride) devices. These GaN devices have demonstrated power densities of 5 to 8 times higher than competing technologies, GaAs or InP devices. Further, we are proposing to operate these devices in a switching mode (Class F). Simulations presented in this proposal indicate that by using this approach, drain efficiencies approaching 70% are possible. Secondly, we are proposing to utilize a low loss, H-tee combining approach to combine 4 of these high-efficiency chips to achieve 70 watts. Finally, we plan to utilize envelope tracking (ET) to maintain the amplifier in saturation, operating at highest efficiency, and then use Digital Pre-Distortion (DPD) to linearize the resulting amplifier characteristics. Simulations described in this proposal indicate that with this innovative approach, we can simultaneously achieve the output power, linearity and efficiency goals of this program.BENEFIT:High-efficiency, linear power amplifiers are required for Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) ground based terminals and for AF airborne terminals. Linearity is required in order to prevent spectral regrowth, i.e., extraneous power from one channel interfering with signals in adjacent channels, and high efficiency is required to minimize both power consumption and self-heating, which in turn causes thermal stress. Currently available Ka-band solid-state amplifiers simply do not have the combination of output power, efficiency and linearity required for this application. The efficiency SOA for Ka-band MMICs is in the range of 25%. With practical packaged amplifiers, including matching and combining networks, the amplifier efficiency rarely exceeds 15%, and is even less when operated as a linear amplifier. Employing an innovative switching-mode amplifier concept in conjunction with Envelop Tracking (ET) and DPD linearization, our approach produces a SOA high-efficiency, linear power amplifier. Military applications for high-efficiency, linear amplifier technology include SATCOM applications for the Army in the 29.5 to 31 GHz band, and radar applications for all the military services in the Ka radar bands. There is also a need to replace aging SATCOM satellites such as MILSTAR, with broader ground coverage and increased data throughout. Once again, the same set of amplifier requirements exists higher output power and higher efficiency at Ka-band frequencies. Potential commercial and industrial applications for this technology are summarized below: Ka-band satellite communications. Ground terminal manufacturers are utilizing SSPAs to replace tubes in the 27 to 31 GHz frequency range, with power levels ranging from 10 W to over 1000 W. This market has experienced explosive growth in the last few years with the exploitation of Ka-band for satellite-based broadband communication. The PA (tube and SSPA) market size of this segment is estimated to be $100M/yr with over a dozen major suppliers of tubes and SSPAs. Airborne terminals for Broadband Access in commercial airliners using SARCOM (27 to 31 GHz). This is a new market which is just now evolving. The estimated market size is 10M/yr. and growing rapidly. Ka-band Deep Space communications for NASA at 31.8-32.3 GHz for downlink and 34.2-34.7 GHz for uplink Emerging Ka-band communications applications in new frequency bands. For example, 38-39 GHz for ESAs Alphasat program Weather and environmental monitoring radars operating in the 34 to 36 GHz band. There are airborne and ground-based applications. Potential customers include commercial instrument makers, avionics, etc. NASA Earth science missions including Ka-band radar for cloud measurements, weather and climate variability studies. Since these sensors are airborne or satellite based, they would also benefit from this high-efficiency technology. Emerging aircraft landing systems to enhance or replace Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS) with EVFS. Imaging and mapping. Frequency: 35 GHz. SSPAs are a superior option to tubes. Security and Surveillance radars for commercial, industrial and municipal applications. These modern radar-based sensors present much higher resolution and ranging than other sensors. Helicopter collision avoidance radars for brown-out and obstacle avoidance.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.78K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: QuinStar Technology proposes to develop an efficient, solid-state power amplifier (SSPA), operating over the 71 to 76 GHz band, for use in high data rate satellite transmitters. The goals of an efficient >35 watt, power amplifier at these frequencies will be met by employing a combination of state-of-the-art (SOA) wide-bandgap gallium nitride (GaN) HEMT device technology and innovative power combining techniques. Existing programs have focused on developing higher power MMIC amplifiers. However, efficient high power devices have not been realized to date. To achieve the power and efficiency goals QuinStar proposes use low loss high order combining networks to power combine a large number of smaller high efficiency MMIC amplifier blocks. BENEFIT: Future warfighters will require increased SATCOM capacity for improved situational awareness. Current SATCOM bands are already overly congested indicating the need to exploit nontraditional frequency spectra, such as the E-band up and down links at 81-86 GHz and 71-76 GHz, respectively. This proposal addresses the downlink requirement by proposing a >35 W high-efficiency power amplifier for the transmitter. High efficiency is required to reduce the prime power requirements and to reduce self-heating. This, in turn, will increase the amplifiers reliability or lifetime (MTTF). In addition to SATCOM UAV applications, this linear, high-efficiency SSPA technology can be utilized in space-based applications including broadband RF cross-link communications in satellite constellations and the Air Forces V/W-band communications system. Specific examples include the Joint Arial Layered Network (JALN) and AISR architectures. Furthermore, this high-efficiency power MMIC technology can be readily applied to other military/NASA missions in the adjacent frequency bands, V and W. QuinStar, as a merchant supplier of high-rel microwave and millimeter-wave components, is uniquely positioned in the marketplace to capitalize on this opportunity to become a major supplier of high-rel, high-efficiency SSPAs for airborne, space and broadband point-to-point communications transceivers.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.31K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: QuinStar proposes to build a small and light-weight radio frequency (RF) front-end module to be used in an airborne W/V band SATCOM transceiver. This front-end module consists of two paths: a transmit path and a receive path. In the transmit path, a designated intermediate frequency (IF) input is up-converted to the 81-86 GHz uplink signal. In the receive path, it accepts a 71-76 GHz downlink signal and produces an IF signal at the IF port for further processing. The intent is to build this front-end with its size and weight suitable to be mounted on an airborne gimbal by doing without W- and V-band rotary joints. In this way, one of the troublesome issues which face system integrators in the development of airborne transceivers can be eliminated. BENEFIT: The key W/V band transceiver technologies developed for this program can benefit future DoD, NASA, and upcoming commercial satellite communication systems. For DoD, the results of this SBIR research topic can be directly applied to future MILSATCOM programs. For example, Air Force has an ongoing W/V band Satellite Communications Experiments (WSCE) program using the same frequency allocation plan. This is a strong indication that the proposed work is completely in sync with the trend of future space terminal and communication link development. NASA and other space agencies are involved in a program called "Integrated Interplanetary Network. W-band is one of the main frequency bands this program plan to use to relay data from landers, rovers, and satellites back to Earth. Commercially, the data crowding at the current Ku/Ka band satellites is well documented. ESA has been experimenting Q/V satellite link systems (AlphaSat for example.) Several W-band projects, such as DAVID Mission and WAVE Project, are designed to perform preliminary tests for the commercial use of the W-band. The fact that FCC allows non-exclusive use of these bands by private sectors will speed up the arrival of W/V band satellite era. This research will benefit these and other upcoming opportunities.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.69K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: The proposed work is to develop a high integration, single transmit, multiple receive, digital beamforming, airborne SATCOM transceiver. This can be accomplished by using advanced GaN technologies for the transmitter SSPA and InP technologies for the receiver LNA. Furthermore, we propose to integrate most of the receiver functions (e.g. the LNA, mixer, etc.) on a single InP chip. This will reduce the cost and enhance the performance of the receiver. The receiver array will be part of the digital beamforming circuit countering antenna pointing error. BENEFIT: The key W/V band transceiver technologies developed for this program can benefit future DoD, NASA, and upcoming commercial satellite communication systems. For DoD, the results of this SBIR research topic can be directly applied to future MILSATCOM programs. For example, Air Force has an ongoing W/V band Satellite Communications Experiments (WSCE) program using the same frequency allocation plan. This is a strong indication that the proposed work is completely in sync with the trend of future space terminal and communication link development. NASA and other space agencies are involved in a program called"Integrated Interplanetary Network. W-band is one of the main frequency bands this program plan to use to relay data from landers, rovers, satellites, back to Earth. Commercially, the data crowding at the current Ku/Ka band satellites is well documented. ESA has been experimenting Q/V satellite link systems (AlphaSat for example.) Several W-band projects, such as DAVID Mission and WAVE Project, are designed to perform preliminary tests for the commercial use of the W-band. The fact that FCC allows non-exclusive use of these bands by private sectors will speed up the arrival of W/V band satellite era. This research will benefit these and other upcoming opportunities.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.76K | Year: 2013

ABSTRACT: QuinStar proposes to develop an efficient, linear solid-state power amplifier (SSPA), operating over the 81 to 86 GHz band, for high data rate communications between Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and satellites. We will accomplish this by employing state-of-the-art wide-bandgap gallium nitride (GaN) HEMT devices in conjunction with several circuit innovations. First, we will employ a quasi-switching mode of operation for the MMIC amplifier to improve its efficiency. Phase I results presented in this proposal indicate that with this technique, drain efficiencies of up to 71% are possible. Second, we will utilize Envelope Tracking (ET) and Digital Pre-Distortion (DPD) to linearize the resulting switching-mode amplifier and extend its efficiency over a wide dynamic range. During Phase I, we demonstrated the power and versatility of this approach by using measured GaN MMIC data in conjunction with simulations. We were able to improve the amplifier average efficiency by more than a factor of 3, while simultaneously meeting the -36 dBc ACPR linearity requirement. Finally, to realize the 50W power levels required, we will employ innovative power combining techniques. We are proposing a 2-tier, 64-way combining structure with the 1st tier consisting of a new 4-way combining network and the 2nd tier, a 16-way radial combiner. With this combination, simulations indicate an overall 85% combining efficiency. BENEFIT: Future warfighters will require increased SATCOM capacity for improved situational awareness. Current SATCOM bands are already overly congested indicating the need to exploit nontraditional frequency spectra, such as the E-band up and down links at 81-86 GHz and 71-76 GHz, respectively. This proposal addresses the uplink requirement by proposing a 50 W high-efficiency linear power amplifier for the transmitter. High efficiency is required to reduce the UAV prime power requirements and to reduce self-heating. This, in turn, will increase the amplifier"s reliability or lifetime (MTTF). Linearity (-36 dBc ACPR) is required in order to handle advanced spectrally efficient modulation schemes, such as 32-QAM, without distorting the information or generating adjacent channel interference. In addition to SATCOM UAV applications, this linear, high-efficiency SSPA technology can be utilized in space-based applications including broadband RF cross-link communications in satellite constellations and the Air Force"s V/W-band communications system. Specific examples include the Joint Arial Layered Network (JALN) and AISR architectures. Furthermore, this high-efficiency power MMIC technology can be readily applied to other military/NASA missions in the adjacent frequency bands, V and W. NASA needs high-efficiency, W-band power amplifiers for many of its space-based missions. High-efficiency W-band amplifiers are required for the LO multiplier chain for the Scanning Microwave Limb Sounder on the Global Atmospheric Composition Mission and for SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). The output power levels and efficiencies for these NASA applications are in line with the requirements of this program. Finally, QuinStar is currently supplying the transmitter for the AARGM missile and the W-band high power amplifier technology described in this proposal is directly applicable. QuinStar, as a merchant supplier of high-rel microwave and millimeter-wave components, is uniquely positioned in the marketplace to capitalize on this opportunity to become a major supplier of high-rel, linear, high-efficiency SSPAs for airborne, space and terrestrial applications.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.98K | Year: 2015

QuinStar Technology, Inc. proposes to develop a GaN IMPATT (IMPact-ionization Avalanche Transit Time) device operating at W-band for power generation applications. The approach is based on advanced material development of low defect GaN vertical structures, comprehensive device modeling and optimization, and state-of-the-art fabrication and packaging techniques, supported by a strong team and commercialization strategy.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2015

QuinStar Technology proposes to develop a high-efficiency, solid-state power amplifier (SSPA), operating at Ka-band frequencies, for high data rate, long range space communications. Specifically, we propose to develop a 20 W power amplifier with an associated PAE of 60% operating over the 31.5 to 34 GHz band. This will be accomplished by employing two major innovations. First, we plan to utilize wide bandgap Gallium Nitride (GaN) on Silicon Carbide (SiC) device technology to fabricate our high-efficiency MMICs. Operating at a higher voltage (typically 20-28 V versus 4-5 V for GaAs), GaN permits power densities which are 5-10 times higher than GaAs or InP. In addition to a higher power density, high-voltage operation results in lower matching and cell combining losses, making these MMICs more efficient. Secondly, we are proposing to utilize a switching mode of operation (Class-F) to enhance the device efficiency. While this method has demonstrated PAE levels of >80% at 2 GHz, these levels have not yet been realized at Ka-band frequencies. Computer simulations, contained in this proposal, indicate that by using this method, device PAE levels ranging up to 73% are possible at 32 GHz. Furthermore, this was verified by benchmark data from at least one GaN foundry showing a device, operating in Class-F, with a PAE of 80% at 3 GHz. Finally, simulations at Ka-band frequencies indicate that even with circuit losses, we can still maintain the efficiency (PAE) at or very close to 60%. The layout and performance of a multistage MMIC is included in this proposal, together with the overall SSPA configuration and performance.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.93K | Year: 2015

High power, compact, reliable and affordable power amplifiers operating in the W-band (94 GHz region) are critical to realizing transmitters for many NASA missions and other significant applications for remote sensing and environmental measurements. QuinStar Technology proposes novel approach for a family of solid state power amplifiers (SSPA) that will exceed the performance and operational requirements for measurement instruments and monitoring equipment of the future. Proposed approach is based on optimal combination of unique techniques for highly efficient and yet robust power combining, circuit integration and innovative packaging methods. This also leads to affordable products suitable for space, airborne as well as terrestrial applications. Key features of the proposed implementation are: scalability of power output, compact, lightweight, flexible architecture and high reliability with very significant potential for performance improvement and price reduction as MMIC device technology matures further. Initial objective of proposed effort is to achieve greater than 50 Watts of power output at 94 GHz at greater than 20% duty cycle and with 40 dB or more gain. Phase II work will focus on innovative robust designs for power combining, packaging and select device/material s. Phase II effort will lead to a producible and scalable design baseline that will be used in Phase III for manufacturing deployable products.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.81K | Year: 2014

QuinStar Technology proposes to develop a high-efficiency, 4-W SSPA operating at F-band frequencies (106-114 GHz). This will be achieved by employing two major innovations. Firstly, we are employing state-of-the-art wide bandgap GaN (Gallium Nitride) devices. At millimeter-wave frequencies, these GaN devices have demonstrated power densities of 5 to 8 times higher than GaAs or InP devices. Further, we are proposing to operate these devices in a quasi-switching mode, which has demonstrated, in Phase I simulations, drain efficiencies approaching 70%. The resulting MMIC, operating over the 106 to 114 GHz band, will produce an output power of one watt and an efficiency of greater than 33%. Secondly, we are proposing to utilize a new low loss, H-tee combining approach to combine 4 of these high-efficiency chips to achieve 4 watts. The net result is a unique combination of high performance devices and innovative power combining. We anticipate that this work will result in an order of magnitude increase in the state-of-the-art of SSPA output power and efficiency at F-band. We anticipate that this work will be very important for NASA's Earth Science missions and for DoD W-band radar and communications applications.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.87K | Year: 2014

High power, compact, reliable and affordable power amplifiers operating in the W-band (94 GHz region) are critical to realizing transmitters for many NASA missions and other significant applications for remote sensing and environmental measurements. QuinStar Technology proposes novel approach for a family of solid state power amplifiers (SSPA) that will exceed the performance and operational requirements for measurement instruments and monitoring equipment of the future. Proposed approach is based on optimal combination of unique techniques for highly efficient and yet robust power combining, circuit integration and innovative packaging methods. This also leads to affordable products suitable for space, airborne as well as terrestrial applications. Key features of the proposed implementation are: scalability of power output, compact, lightweight, flexible architecture and high reliability with very significant potential for performance improvement and price reduction as MMIC device technology matures further. Initial objective of proposed effort is to achieve greater than 50 Watts of power output at 94 GHz at greater than 20% duty cycle and with 40 dB or more gain. Phase I work will focus on innovative robust designs for power combining, packaging and select device/material s. Phase I effort will lead to a producible and scalable design baseline that will be used in Phase II for manufacturing deployable products.

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