Gallium nitride-based devices, including RF amplifiers, high voltage power switches, and high breakdown voltage diodes have a wide range of immediate military applications, such as high-power satellite communications and radar, unmanned underwater and aerial vehicles, ship drive components, and hybrid vehicle inverters. GaN devices have been commercially successful, however, there are still significant challenges as the material system is pushed to its performance limits.
Several approaches are possible for handling the increased thermal load of these high power devices including the use of high-thermal-conductivity diamond substrates to replace lower-conductivity materials like SiC, Si, and sapphire. New thermal-handling processes such as direct growth of diamond in thermal vias etched in SiC hold promise. Better thermal management using diamond would lower system downtime, reduce system lifecycle costs and increase overall system performance and capability.