Imec’s 200mm GaN-on-Si e-mode power devices withstand heavy ion and neutron irradiation

Radiation hardness of e-mode devices confirm maturity of imec’s 200mm GaN-on-Si platform

Leuven (Belgium) – March 7, 2017 – Imec, the world-leading research and innovation hub in nano-electronics and digital technologies, today announced that their 200mm gallium nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) e-mode power devices with a pGaN gate architecture showed no degradation after heavy ion and neutron irradiation. The irradiation tests were performed in collaboration with Thales Alenia Space, a leader in innovative space systems. The results demonstrate that imec’s 200mm GaN-on-Si platform delivers state-of-the-art GaN-based power devices for earth as well as for space applications.

GaN-on-silicon transistors operate at higher voltages, frequencies and temperatures than their silicon counterparts. This makes them the ideal candidates for power conversion devices as they show less power losses in electricity conversion. First-generation GaN-based power devices are used today and will play a key role in the power conversion of future electronic devices such as battery chargers, smartphones, computers, servers, automotive, lighting systems and photovoltaics.

Imec has been  developing the next-generation of GaN-based power devices with improved performance and reliability. Imec’s latest 200mm GaN-on-Si platform shows good  wafer-to-wafer reproducibility and low dynamic Rdson. The platform is currently available for dedicated development or technology transfer to imec’s current and future partners.


Imec’s latest generation of  200mm GaN-on-Si e-mode  pGaN devices were irradiated with heavy ions (Xenon) and neutrons. Pre and post irradiation tests revealed that there was no permanent degradation of transistor characteristics: no shifts in threshold voltage nor gate rupture. The excellent radiation hardness of imec’s devices is important, as it enables applications in space, where fluxes of heavy ions and neutrons can damage electronic circuits in satellites and space stations.

Thales Alenia Space Belgium has surveyed, since many years, the evolution in the field of wide band gap devices. These family of components is promising for a significant increase in performances. But, robustness to space radiation is mandatory for electronic devices in our equipment’s. The result obtained with Imec’s GaN-on-Si devices is an important step in the way to space based power conversion applications.

“These results are important to start using this promising technology for space applications. Also, it demonstrates that our 200mm GaN-on-Si platform has reached a high level of technology readiness and can be adopted by industry,” stated Rudi Cartuyvels, Executive Vice President at imec. “At imec, we use 200mm silicon substrates for GaN epitaxy and this technology can be used on 200mm CMOS-compatible infrastructure. Thanks to innovations in transistor architecture and substrate technology, we’ve succeeded in making GaN devices on larger wafer diameters than used today, which brings lower cost perspectives for the second generation of GaN-on-Si power devices. Imec is also looking beyond today’s technology, exploring novel substrates, higher level of integrations and novel devices.”

These results were achieved in the framework of the European Space Agency (ESA) project “ESA AO/1-7688/13/NL/RA”, GaN devices for space based DC-DC power conversion applications.

Andrew Barnes ESA Technical Officer overseeing the project stated: “GaN is a critical technology for future space missions with a wide range of potential applications, including smaller size, higher efficiency DC-DC power conversion subsystems.

These results, obtained from the first phase of an ESA GSTP project, are important and show that the p-GaN devices developed by imec offer excellent radiation robustness for operation in space. In the second phase of the project it is planned to industrialize this technology in readiness for a future space qualification program”. The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe's gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.


About imec

Imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nano-electronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, and energy. 

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together close to 3,500 brilliant minds from over 70 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. In 2015, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 415 million euro and of iMinds which is integrated in imec as of September 21, 2016 52 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at

Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited), imec Florida (IMEC USA nanoelectronics design center).

About Thales Alenia Space Belgium

Thales Alenia Space Belgium is the country’s largest manufacturer of space electronics and a world leader in electronic supplies for satellites. Almost 200 programmes have already been put into orbit with equipment from the company on board. The company also supplies 50 % of the electronics on the Ariane 5 launcher and the backup chain for Ariane 6 and Soyouz. Almost 700 people work on the sites in Mont-sur-Marchienne (Charleroi) and Leuven.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with EUMETSAT for the development of meteorological missions.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in the Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications domain.

Learn more about ESA at


Contact :

imec : Hanne Degans, Press officer and communications specialist, T: +32 16 28 17 69, Mobile : +32 486 06 51 75,

Thales Alenia Space: Mélanie Catoir, T: +32 (0)71 44 26 29,

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