Felix Ejeckam and Ty Mitchell, both experts in gallium nitride (GaN)-on-diamond technology, have formed Akash Systems Inc of San Francisco, CA, USA, targeting fast, affordable satellite communications to address the challenge of worldwide data demand outpacing the frequency, bandwidth and power capabilities of existing communications infrastructure.
Akash says that, through the application of GaN-on-diamond materials, its technologies can resolve issues critical to the expansive growth of data use and consumption, enabling smaller, lighter and higher-performing satellites that lead to lower launch costs, reduced cost-per-bit, more launch cycles, and increased communications access and throughput.
“There is a great need and demand for new satellites that are lower cost and allow for faster downlink data rates,” says co-founder, CEO and GaN-on-diamond inventor Felix Ejeckam. “Our technology will also create opportunities not envisioned today, including deep space communications, faster data links between spacecraft, and higher-density information access between human communities, no matter where they are in the universe.”
Phase one of Akash’s business approach includes GaN-on-diamond hybrids and monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) power amplifiers that are currently on the market. The firm plans to move into phase two – working with satellite system makers to design small satellite (Cubesat) systems and subsystems – by 2019.
Ejeckam invented the GaN-on-diamond technology in 2003 while at Group4 Labs Inc by lifting GaN epitaxy from its original growth substrate (for example, silicon) and transferring it to a synthetic CVD diamond substrate. Group4 Labs’ assets were acquired in 2013 by Element Six Technologies (a member of the De Beers Group of Companies).
In 2016, Ejeckam, together with Akash co-founder & chief operating officer Ty Mitchell, entered into an agreement with RFHIC Corp of Anyang, South Korea (which designs and makes active RF & microwave high-power components and hybrid modules) to jointly negotiate the repurchase of the GaN-on-diamond intellectual property (IP), with Akash acquiring all patents and other IP rights related to GaN-on-diamond technology for use in satellite communications and related markets.
“Imagine extending the reach of fast, affordable communications to every human on earth. Imagine the possibility of high-bandwidth communications between Earth and deep space, or even human colonies in space. At Akash, we are creating technologies to make that vision come true,” says Mitchell, who was previously at Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA, where he served in roles including executive VP/GM and VP/GM of Cree’s Optoelectronics, GaN/SiC materials, and LED Lighting businesses. “Akash is excited to acquire this IP to serve our customer base of satellite system makers around the world. We want to redefine what people believe are limitations in satellite communications,” he adds.