Development of high power amplifiers for radar applications

Carlos Cilla Hernández, PhD student

Jens Vidkjær, Professor

Axel Thomsen, TERMA A/S
Viktor Krozer, Professor 

1 August 2008 - 31 July 2012

Forskerskole Electroscience and TERMA A/S

Advanced radar systems have received considerable attention due to the increased demand in remote sensing and imaging applications both for terrestrial and space systems. One of the key elements in this system is the high power amplifier, which has experienced a renewed interest due to the enormous progress in solid-state technology and devices. An emerging technology particularly promising for high power amplifier realization is GaN device technology.

Advances in high power amplifier technology will help reducing the system size and cost, and enhancing transmission rates and target detection.

Project description, goals and applications
The scope of the PhD project lies in the development of design methodologies, manufacturing, and efficient testing of high power amplifier (HPA) modules. The development of Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPA) is a multi-facetted activity including linear and nonlinear device modeling, linear and nonlinear circuit design, device fabrication, technology development, packaging, measurement and testing. The PhD project will focus on a subset of these research topics.

The goal of the project is to develop a high power amplifier for X-band frequencies with capabilities to replace the vacuum tubes used in radar systems designed by TERMA A/S. These radars are commercial systems used for applications like traffic surveillance within airports, coastal and air surveillance, environmental surveillance of sea surfaces and vessel traffic monitoring in harbors.

The project will start with the design of individual modules delivering 50W-100W output power with high efficiency, using large-signal transistor models. Based on the successful manufacturing of the HPA module, combiner, structures will be investigated in order to build a HPA unit that shall deliver 500 W average output power at CW operation with η>30% power-added efficiency and operating with a duty cycle of 10%. The emerging GaN device technology has been identified to be particularly suitable and promising for this project.

The project will last three years and it will be conducted at the Electromagnetic Systems Group (EMS), Elektro-DTU. EMS has many years experience in the design and characterization of circuit components for radar applications, especially power amplifiers. EMS is active in the field of power amplifier design and linearization techniques and has as well established nonlinear circuit-level analysis know-how.


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