Power Electronics

INDUSTRY LOOKS TO GAN

Alderman is Not Alone in his enthusiasm for GaN devices, as several individuals from industry and academia here express their thoughts on the technology.

From Alex Lidow, Chief Executive, EPC:

“Arnold has it right; there is a big opportunity for someone to launch higher voltage GaN devices!

There are two key criteria for a successful 600V GaN product as a MOSFET/IGBT displacement technology:

Is it VERY cost effective?

Is it VERY easy to use?

High voltage GaN devices will have a much lower RDS(ON) per unit area than IGBTs or MOSFETs. I would estimate that first-generation 600V product will be 1/5 the size of an IGBT for the same current handling capability. These products will also have very high frequency capability and an extraordinary switching figure of merit (RQ product).

The technology needed to produce these devices economically is already here. GaN can be grown with device-grade quality on silicon and can be produced in a standard CMOS foundry. Cost effectiveness will be realized quickly.

The issue will be ease-of-use. Using a high-voltage device at very high frequencies poses many new challenges in drive electronics. There are no commercial drive ICs with the ability to switch at the high frequencies needed to fully exploit the remarkable new capabilities of GaN.

In June 2009, EPC introduced the first enhancement mode GaN devices with voltage ratings up to 200V. The reception has been extraordinary! In a few months, we will be launching 600V product as well and are now developing solutions that will make the product as easy to use as the MOSFETs and IGBTs that have been so successful in efficient power conversion applications.”

From Professor Umesh Mishra, University of California, Santa Barbara:

“Thank you for your continued interest in the emergence of GaN and in your role in educating the community about its potential.

It is also gratifying that the industry is seriously considering GaN and is open to its insertion into applications.

Though difficult (as Mr. Alderman correctly said), high voltage GaN-based devices are inevitable and I imagine will be here within a year or less.”

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