Ma receives $450K to speed up communication transistors
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma received a three-year grant of $450,000 from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to develop gallium nitride heterojunction bipolar transistors. Gallium nitride has superior electronic properties. Field-effect transistors using this material have been well developed over the last one to two decades. In comparison to the field effect transistors, bipolar transistors are expected provide higher performance than field-effect transistors when they are operated at high power and very high frequencies. Bipolar transistors can also be fabricated at much reduced cost, with the cost of micrometer scale for bipolar versus nanometer scale for field effect transistors, since the speed of bipolar transistors is limited by their vertical layer thickness, rather than the feature size, like in the field effect transistors. However, the lack of effective p-type doping in gallium nitride makes the development of high-performance bipolar transistors very difficult. Ma recently solved the p-type doping challenge. With this project, he plans to push the speed of gallium nitride bipolar transistors into several hundred gigahertz. Many defense and commercial communication and surveillance applications could benefit from the success of this research.