Wide-bandgap, high-performance semiconductor known as gallium nitride (GaN) is thought to be the most promising and cutting-edge power technology. In terms of switching speed, thermal conductivity, and reduced drain to source resistance, GaN-based power devices have surpassed conventional silicon devices (Rds). Increasingly, high-power motor drives, quick charging adapters, telecom, high-performance computer, and space applications are using gallium nitride field effect transistors (GaN FETs) for power control and conversion.
This article is a summary of a panel discussion, which was a part of the PowerUP EXPO where experts from pioneering tech companies around the globe talk about the recent progress and future scope of GaN solutions.
Doug Bailey, vice president of Marketing and Applications Engineering, Power Integrations started off the panel discussion by explaining the key areas where losses take place in a conventional AC/DC converter. Bailey pointed out that the primary and secondary switching MOSFETs and the current sense resistor are the areas where the majority of the losses occur. The conventional AC/DC converter consisted of more than 75 components, which further decreases the efficiency even after using wide band gap switches. Bailey later introduced the integrated solution provided by power integration, which uses wide band gap switches in an integrated package, ‘drastically’ reducing the component count by 65 percent. The choice of the switch depends upon the power rating at which the converter works. The engineer also suggested the use of Si-based switches for power ratings less than 35W while GaN-based switches for higher power ratings to balance out the cost versus benefit.
Vikas Dhurka, VP of Marketing and Applications, NexGen Power Systems talked about the world’s smallest and most efficient power system-related integrated solutions developed using NexGen vertical GaN technology. Speaking about the future of NexGen Power Systems, Dhurka said, “The strategic long-term focus of the company is data centers and electric vehicles. I think this is something that we in the power electronics community know very well the huge impact of GaN technology will have in these high power applications.”
Stephen Oliver, VP of Corporate Marketing and Investor Relations at Navitas touched upon the magnitude of growth the GaN-based fast charging technology for smartphones has seen in recent times. With the average mAh size of the battery tripling compared to last year, companies like Realme have used GaN-based fast chargers to charge 5000 mAh in less than 10 mins. Moving up the powertrain Oliver talked about solar inverters based out of GaN, which offer 10 times faster-switching frequency as compared to Si-based inverters, significantly increasing the efficiency and reducing the cost.
Daniel Sherman, vice president of research and development at VisIC Technologies explained GaN-based high voltage and high current devices for automotive applications. In the 650V electric vehicle (EV)charging application, VisIC claims to have the highest efficiency converters in the market because of their metal insulated semiconductor (MIS) technology. Describing the MIS technology Sherman said that “This is probably the most robust and reliable transistor structure for high power applications, simply because we have as an insulation layer between channel and the metal gates and this is the key to penetrating the automotive market.” Sherman also discussed the direct drive d-mode platform by VisIC to provide performance, reliability, and cost efficiency for the EV powertrain market.
Read the complete version of this article on sister publication Power Electronics News