The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore has received initial government approval to set up a foundry to produce gallium nitride (GaN) for next-generation strategic technologies, including radar and communication systems, according to the Indian Express.
The proposed foundry is to be developed around an existing facility for producing GaN transistors on silicon wafers, at the IISc’s Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), under the leadership of associate professor Srinivasan Raghavan.
“The proposal is currently at the highest level of the government,” says Shivashankar. “It needs about Rs3000 crore [$465m] and is seen as a strategic-sector investment,” he adds.
“GaN technology will substantially help in the development of next-generation radars, seekers and communication systems, and will be useful in systems like Light Combat Aircraft,” comments R K Sharma, director of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Solid State Physics Lab.
Inaugurated in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the CeNSE facility aims to create a GaN electronics ecosystem, spanning materials, devices and systems. GaN-based transistors from CeNSE are already being sold to researchers in India. The creation of a commercial GaN foundry would service industry demand for GaN technology.
“What we need for strategic purposes is efficient energy consumption systems, and gallium nitride conductors are the answer. Unmanned vehicles, for example, which are the future of security systems, are dependent on energy efficiency,” says Sharma.
Among the areas where GaN can be used is phased-array radar for electronic warfare, such as active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars that are fitted on modern fighter jets.
“The worldwide power electronics device market is $36bn,” notes Raghavan. “As power consumption goes up, the requirement for power electronics will go up. So when you start working on GaN-based materials, you are looking at potential impact on a much larger power electronics market,” he adds. “What we have set up here in the IISc is a GaN platform where many of these things can mushroom.”