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Pioneering evaluation of GaN transistors in geostationary satellites

H. Mostardinha1, D. Matos1, N.B. Carvalho1, J. Sampaio2, M. Pinto2, P. Gonçalves2, T. Sousa3, P. Kurpas4, J. Wuerfl4, A. Barnes5, F. Garat5 & C. Poivey5

Published in:

Sci. Rep., vol. 12, art. 12886, doi:10.1038/s41598-022-17179-y (2022).


In this paper, we present the results of a 6-year experiment in space that studied the effects of radiation in Gallium Nitride (GaN) electronics in geostationary orbit. Four GaN transistors in a Colpitts oscillator configuration were flown in the Component Technology Test-Bed aboard the Alphasat telecommunication satellite. A heuristic analysis was performed by observing the variation in the power output of the oscillators with the total ionizing dose gathered during the mission. The total ionizing dose was measured with a Radiation Sensing Field Effect Transistors (RadFET) placed close to the GaN devices. The experiment showed that GaN is a robust technology that can be used in the space radiation environment of a geostationary orbit. The work presented here starts with a brief introduction of the subject, the motivation, and the main goal. This is followed by the description of the experimental setup, including the details of the oscillator design and simulations, as well as the implementation of the test-bed and the Components Technology Test-Bed. Finally, the results obtained during the 6 years of experience in space are discussed.

1 Instituto de Telecomunicações - Universidade de Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
2 Laboratório de Instrumentação E Física Experimental de Partículas (LIP), Av. Prof. Gama Pinto 2, 1649-003 Lisbon, Portugal
3 EFACEC Sistemas de Electrónica, S. A.- Aerospace Activity Manager, R. Eng. Frederico Ulrich, Apartado 3078, 4471-907 Moreira Maia, Portugal
4 Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik GgmbH, Gustav-Kirchhoff-Straße 4, 12489 Berlin, Germany
5 ESA/ESTEC European Space Research and Technology Center, Keplerlaan 1, P.O. Box 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk ZH, The Netherlands

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