GaN is King (again) at This Year’s IMS High Efficiency Power Amplifier Competition


After the first upper cut, came a flying side kick to the chest…yeah, this is not an MMA competition. This is a competition of the best student minds. At IMS2016 in San Francisco, the MTT-5 committee organized the 12th annual High Efficiency Power Amplifier Student Design Competition (HEPA SDC). Dr. Joe Staudinger, Dr. Kiki Ikossi, Dr. Joe Qiu directed this year’s contest to focus on PAs having both high efficiency and linearity. Here is a snap shot of the rules for the 2016 competition.

·         Operating Frequency :: 1 – 10 GHz

·         Output Power :: 4 watts minimum, but no more than 100 watts, when excited by a single carrier at the frequency of test

·         Linearity :: conducted using two equal amplitude carriers spaced 5 MHz apart

Note: To qualify for the linearity measurement, with 0 dBm per tone input, carrier-to-intermodulation ratio (C/I) must be greater than 30 dB*

·         Click here for a complete list of rules.



1st place :: Paolo Enrico de Falco & James Birchall from University of Bristol, UK under the advisement of Dr. Souheil Ben Smida. The PA was designed using the CGH40006P GaN HEMT from Cree/Wolfspeed, with Cree models in National Instrument’s MWO. The design (single-ended) had its harmonic terminations optimized for linearity at back-off. Operating at 3GHz, the PA had over 15dB gain. Two-tone PAE measured with IMD below -30dBc was 44.8% at around 4dB output power back-off.

 2nd place :: John Bucceri from University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA under the advisement of Dr. James Komiak from BAE Systems, Nashua, NH. Mr. Bucceri optimized the Qorvo TGF2023-2-02 GaN die for Doherty characteristics at 5GHz, to be able to cancel out the third order IMD products between the main and peaking amplifier. This was done to be able to drive the amplifier harder while still satisfying the IMD < 30 dBc rule of the competition. The resulting PAE was around 33% with about 12 dB of gain. He used Keysight’s ADS with Modelithics models to simulate the PA design..

3rd place :: Jesus de Cos Perez & Ali Boudiaf from University of Cantabria, Spain under the advisement of Dr. Jose Angel Garcia. The design is based on Cree/Wolfspeed's GaN HEMT CGH35015. The Doherty PA operates at 3.5 GHz, 28V with a resulting PAE of 24.98%, when operating in the linear region. Mr. Perez and Mr. Boudiaf simulated the PA using Cree’s proprietary large signal models in Keysight’s ADS.




Freq (GHz)

PAE (%)


Paolo Enrico de Falco, James Birchall

Dr. Souheil Ben Smida

University of Bristol, UK




John Bucceri

Dr James Komiak

University of Massachusetts-Amherst / BAE Systems, Nashua, NH




Jesus de Cos Perez,
Ali Boudiaf

Dr Jose Angel Garcia

University of Cantabria, Spain





Congratulations to all the teams that participated in this year’s competition! We encourage you to spread the word and have your university participate in the IMS2017 Student Design Competitions. After all, who would not want the chance to compete in Hawaii! #IMS2017