“Intelligent power modules will increase efficiency, reliability and compactness of power systems” [GaNext]
Gallium Nitride (GaN) transistors are wide-bandgap compound semiconductor devices that enable compact power electronic systems with efficiencies and power densities that are impossible with today’s silicon (Si) devices. This is due to the lower on-state
resistance, shorter switching times and drastically reduced switching losses of GaN compared to today’s silicon-based devices. These features enable much higher operation frequencies up to the MHz range. A higher frequency directly translates into smaller passive components, such as inductors and capacitors. And this leads to much smaller power electronic systems.
Furthermore, reductions in size and costs are achieved because the cooling system can be shrunk dramatically, due to the reduced losses and improved efficiency. Cooling solutions that today consist of a large heatsink and fans can be changed to a small heatsink with convective cooling only. This reduction in size and weight are particularly beneficial for many portable and mobile solutions, such as electric vehicles (EVs) or on-board chargers.
However, there is a downside to deploying GaN.
Current state-of-the-art GaN devices have certain
characteristics, such as the low gate-threshold
voltage, as well as, electromagnetic interference
(EMI) and oscillations caused by the fast switching
that make them challenging to use. This is one of the
main reasons these GaN devices do not have a larger
market share yet, and the innovations from GaNext
aim to solve these drawbacks.