The inherent limitations of magnetrons as a heat and energy source have boosted innovation in controllable high-power RF techniques, while simultaneously in the semiconductor world, the performance limitations of LDMOS have fueled solutions like MACOM’s GaN on Silicon (GaN-on-Si) technology. This parallel evolution of Solid-State RF Energy (SSRFE) and RF GaN-on-Si has opened wide the door of opportunity to transform the marketplace via improved performance for commercial applications, including lighting, medical, automotive, cooking and for the purpose of this post—baking.
Why GaN-on-Si for Baking?
GaN-on-Si devices are targeted to underpin solid-state RF energy systems, offering an ideal balance of performance, power efficiency, small size and reliability, at an increasingly attractive cost structure at scaled volume production levels. The performance benefits are evident—GaN-on-Si can deliver exceptional power and frequency capability in addition to higher scalable raw power density and higher efficiency than afforded by LDMOS. With GaN-on-Si’s scalability to 8-inch substrates, it is expected to yield RF devices that are more cost effective at scaled volume production levels than LDMOS in dollars per watt. For system designers and commercial OEMs weighing up total system bill of materials and performance for solid-state RF energy applications, GaN-on-Si is a viable and increasingly attractive solution.
Why SSRFE for Baking?
Today’s magnetron-based microwave ovens are unable to adapt to the energy being reflected from the food into the cavity, instead often relying on a rotating turntable at the base of the cavity to aid the heat distribution. This imprecise delivery of energy often results in overcooking and hot spots that can lower a food’s nutritional value, and cold spots that can negatively impact a meal or dining experience.
But through the use of multiple solid-state power amplifiers and antennas with closed-loop control between the RF amplifier and RF synthesizer to adjust for energy absorption and radiation, energy can now be directed with great precision to its target, ensuring optimal temperature control.
Instead of relying on moisture sensors to measure humidity in the cavity, solid-state microwave ovens measure the properties of the food as it cooks or bakes, and adapt accordingly to changing load conditions or the current condition of the food. This results in increased retention of the nutrients, moisture and flavors of the food.
Consumers will benefit from SSRFE in significant ways centric to system reliability, food processing speed and throughput. The evolution of the solid-state microwave oven is expected to result in a device that is capable of cost-effective baking with unprecedented efficiency, ensuring a cake rises and bakes evenly, and cupcakes on the outer rim of the pan bake as evenly as those in the center. Additionally, the preciseness of the controllable solid-state energy offers opportunities to save energy, money and time in the kitchen, offering the benefit of consistency over the life of the appliance.
As RF energy applications continue to emerge, MACOM remains committed to driving RF GaN-on-Si solutions to enable SSRFE in commercial applications at cost-effective production levels. RF energy for baking is a concept still in its infancy, but as solid-state microwave ovens begin to emerge on the market and continue to demo successfully, such as MACOM’s demonstration at EDICON 2017, the potential and promised benefits are something the industry can get excited about.
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