Active approach to technology development
GREAT 2 plans to be involved early on in technology developments to ensure compatibility with space requirements. Andrew Barnes explains: “Normally, as mainstream industrial processes develop, ESA steps in and space-qualifies them. But sometimes this involves changing many process iterations downstream and it can take several years to implement. Also, one of the big challenges encountered by space industry is that the volume requirements are relatively small, so we don’t always have much leverage to ensure that downstream ‘spin-in’, later on in the development cycle, is really compatible with the needs of space industry. So rather than waiting for things to happen, we’re taking the more active approach at ESA of stepping in earlier to get any needed changes introduced, ensuring there are no showstoppers for space applications.
“However, at the same time, we are ensuring that any technology developed is suitable for multiple applications so that the quantity required needed to establish a commercial foundry process are in place and that technology will eventually be self-supported from higher volume commercial revenue sources.”
Satellite components must go on working for years on end (17 years and more for telecommunication missions), so the reliability of GaN devices is a major issue. GREAT 2 will tackle the causes of GaN early degradation by intervening at the roots of the manufacturing process.
Andrew.Barnes @ esa int
Last update: 20 May 2009