Finwave Semiconductor Addresses the 5G Challenge with Breakthrough 3DGaN FinFET Technology


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Lightning-fast mobile video streaming. Truly autonomous vehicles. A healthcare ecosystem connected in real-time. While the upside of 5G networks is almost unlimited, these life-changing benefits will never be fully realized without a critical missing component – high power, high linearity mmWave power amplifier technology.

Current approaches are throttling 5G due to their inability to deliver the higher linearity and efficiency needed to solve uplink issues facing mmWave frequencies, which do not propagate nearly as far as microwave signals. Looking to serve as a catalyst of change, one company has emerged from stealth mode to unlock the true potential of what’s been hailed as the infrastructure of the future. Founded in 2012 by MIT researchers as Cambridge Electronics, 2022 sees the company reborn with a new moniker – Finwave Semiconductor, Inc. – and a focused mission: to revolutionize the future of 5G communications with next-generation 3D Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology.

“Today’s 5G millimeter wave networks are severely constrained by the inefficient performance of power amplifiers,” commented Joe Madden, chief analyst at Mobile Experts.  “RF-SOI and CMOS technologies are used today instead of GaN because of the need to integrate logic circuits with the RF front end, but this brings significant tradeoffs in power consumption and heat dissipation. High-performance GaN on silicon brings a new option to the table that could make 5G millimeter wave more practical.”

With 10 times higher breakdown electric field than silicon, high electron mobility and the ability to operate at higher junction temperature, GaN semiconductors are poised to play a significant role for the next decade's technology revolutions. At mmWave frequencies, GaN-on-silicon amplifiers excel versus alternative solutions such as Si CMOS, GaAs pHEMTs, or SiGe devices.

Finwave co-founders Prof. Tomas Palacios and Dr. Bin Lu first teamed at MIT to invent several of the foundational technologies for Finwave, including a novel type of GaN transistor based on a FinFET architecture. After being spun out of MIT, the company spent several years developing the technology further for manufacturing in the standard silicon CMOS fabs. By 2020, Finwave demonstrated the first GaN FinFETs fabricated with 8” silicon CMOS tools.

“As GaN continues to gain market share from silicon, first in 4G high-power macro base-stations, then in fast chargers for mobile phones and laptops, we are convinced that the next biggest opportunity for GaN-on-Si will be 5G infrastructure and handset applications,” said Lu. “With our unique 3DGaN technology, proprietary 8” CMOS-compatible manufacturing process and world-class expertise, our team at Finwave is poised to move entire industries forward and become the leading enabler of the 5G market.”

Finwave’s award-winning 3DGaN technology significantly improves linearity, output power and efficiency in 5G mmWave systems – while greatly reducing costs for carriers. By leveraging high volume 8” Si CMOS, Finwave’s devices benefit from both the cost model and scalability of silicon technology. “The combination of the outstanding electrostatic control and linearity of the GaN FinFET structure, with the cost model of silicon, and the scaling ability of state-of-the-art 8” and, in the future, 12” fabs makes 3DGaN a true game changer,” commented Palacios.

“Finwave is what happens when brilliant university research combines with accomplished industry professsionals who have experience building companies and taking them from startup to IPO,” noted Jim Cable, Ph.D., executive chairman and chief strategy officer for Finwave. “5G will be a huge engine for economic growth, making this a very exciting time to be working for a company that is bringing a disruptive, enabling technology to the market. I look forward to continuing to build our IP portfolio, and our product and customer base. We are at the most exciting time for electronics in decades, and Finwave’s quickly growing team is ready to play a key role in close collaboration with our partners.”

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