Four reasons to choose GaN SSPAs over TWTAs for power amplification

Traveling-wave tube amplifiers (TWTAs) have traditionally been used in high-power radar systems for meteorology, air traffic control, defense, and maritime services. But now, there is a new technology to consider: solid-state power amplifiers (SSPAs). Gallium Nitride (GaN)-based microwave SSPAs that handle higher power densities, operate effectively at elevated temperatures, and can drive TWTs in high-power radar systems.

GaN-based amplifiers, like ERZIA’s X-Band series, are designed to optimize radar efficiency across a variety of applications with precision and accuracy.

Four reasons GaN SSPAs hold an advantage over TWTA amplifiers

  1. Efficiency. Compared to TWTAs, GaN SSPAs exhibit higher power-added efficiency, converting DC power into RF power more effectively. This reduces power consumption and heat dissipation, critical factors in RADAR system design.
  2. Reliability. The solid-state nature of SSPAs, devoid of moving parts, promotes a longer lifespan and reduced maintenance needs compared to TWTAs, which can fail due to issues like cathode poisoning. Signal integrity is crucial in RADAR applications. GaN SSPAs excel in linearity, ensuring accurate amplification of a broad range of input signals without distortion, preserving the fidelity of the radar signals.
  3. Higher power density. GaN devices permit the design of smaller, lighter amplifiers, advantageous in space-constrained RADAR applications. SSPAs also offer operational flexibility, functioning effectively across wider temperature ranges, thus increasing their suitability for varied environments.
  4. Resilient power management. Lastly, GaN SSPAs feature graceful degradation. In case of a module failure, the system continues operating at reduced power, contrasting with TWTAs, which can lead to complete system failure.

While TWTAs still hold relevance in certain radar applications requiring high output power or extensive bandwidth, GaN SSPAs present significant advantages in terms of efficiency, reliability, signal linearity, power density, operational flexibility, and graceful degradation. Consequently, the incorporation of GaN technology in RADAR systems signals a promising direction in the field of power amplification.

Read ERZIA’s Tech Brief

To learn more, download this tech brief, Optimizing RADAR Efficiency: An Examination of ERZIA’s GaN-Based Microwave Solid-State Power Amplifiers in X-Band. The brief contains a catalog of X-Band amplifiers, including a range of continuous wave (CW) and pulsed amplifiers, each with specific power requirements.

In the tech brief, you’ll find:

  • Five GaN SSPAs specifically designed for the X-Band frequency range. Within this group, there are three continuous wave (CW) amplifiers with output powers of 20W, 40W, and 80W, offering versatility in applications requiring lower power but continuous operation.
  • Two pulsed amplifiers, providing the higher output powers of 300W and 400W. This makes them ideal for radar applications requiring high peak power in short pulses.

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