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Industry News: transphorm 1,200 Volt GaN Power Transistor at ISPSD 2022 Demonstrate 99% Efficiency Power Switching


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Energy transition is the ultimate challenge in electric vehicles (EVs) and technological advances are reducing costs while offering greater efficiency as demanded by consumers. Driving the market is the entire powertrain made up of power-dense batteries, electric motors and wide-bandgap semiconductor solutions.

GaN or Gallium Nitride is a wide-bandgap material with outstanding intrinsic characteristics that can offer system level advantages with better performance. Lower weight, higher power density for increased range is what GaN can deliver due to operating with a higher efficiency at a higher frequency providing a reduction in passive components while increasing power density. The advantage of allowing larger breakdown voltages and greater thermal stability at higher temperatures along with greatly increasing the efficiency of power-conversion stages is what GaN offers as a replacement for silicon in high-efficiency voltage converts, power MOSFETS, Schottky Diodes, etc. this is what transphorm has to offer to the fast-charger market and the EV products looking for energy efficiency, smaller dimensions, lower weight and lower overall cost.

Current MOSFETs and superjunction MOSFETs cover the industry in voltages up to 650 V, transphorm GaN runs up to 1,200 V with 99% efficiency that can help drive down recharging times and deliver onboard better power transition between the components and engines.

Per transphorm press release, their GaN device offers the broadest range of power options from 45W to 10K+ kW and has been tested to voltages greater than 1,400 Volts.

In working with the Illinois Institute of Technology, the transphorm team has demonstrated a major breakthrough for their GaN performance of a 1,200-volt device node with high efficiency 800-volt switching.

transphorm has proven that their GaN is moving pwer electronics beyond the limitations of silicon in achieveing 99% efficiency with 40% more power density and 20% lower system costs.

While one could easily say BIG DEAL, GaN will not only affect the Auto Industry but the whole electronic industry as it is used from cell phones to computers, to various household electronics, home solar grids and yes your auto delivering on higher energy efficiency.

For those wanting to learn more about various applications that this new technology can be used in, check out the larger video library here: Videos - Transphorm (transphormusa.com)

The SuperGaN technology has the following benefits:

  • Increased Performance: Gen IV provides a flatter and higher efficiency curve with an improved Figure of Merit (RON*QOSS) of approximately 10 percent.
  • Easier Designability: Gen IV offers increased simplicity of design-in by removing the need for a switching node snubber at high operation currents.
  • Enhanced Inrush Current Capability (di/dt):Gen IV removes the switching current limits for the built-in freewheeling diode function in half bridges.
  • Reduced Device Cost: Gen IV’s design innovations and patented technology simplify device assembly, too. The resulting cost adjustments continue to bring Transphorm’s GaN closer to Silicon transistor pricing.
  • Proven Robustness/Reliability: Gen IV’s 35 mΩ FET offers the same gate robustness of +/- 20 Vmax and noise immunity of 4 V that is currently delivered by Transphorm’s Gen III devices.

This allows GaN to offer improvements and greater efficiency in the following markets:

  • Infrastructure and IT Power Supplies
  • Consumer and Computing adapters, gaming power supplies
  • Broad Industrial chargers and UPS
  • Automotive electric vehicles, charging, etc.
  • 5G mobile adapters and RF material

More details on specific areas can be had here: GaN Technology - Transphorm (transphormusa.com)

With transphorm recent break through competition is heating up as Texas Instrument has also announced a new family of GaN transistors aimed at the auto industry meant to decrease board space, increase power efficiency in auto electrical systems.

These devices are special why?

The GaN products can reduce the EV onboard chargers and DC to DC converts by as much as 50% compared to current existing silicon based solutions. The goal here is in saving board space and increasing energy efficiency, engineers will achieve extended battery range, increased system reliability and lower design costs.

According to Texas Instrument, GaN integration can eliminate more than 10 components typically required for discrete solutions in existing EVs and other solutions.

This is the biggest area of improvements GaN has to offer to the EV market, cost and driving range. Today's EVs have many individual components that drive up costs and yet by integration of these components into the powertrain you drive efficiency in reducing that cost down. This would cover bulky items such as inductors, transformers and over all PCB size into the powertrain reducing power losses and simplify thermal management. GaN technology can help extend driving range by operating at higher efficiency and conserving thermal energy requiring fewer cooling components and lower costs.

Driving standards is the SAE International that has a full detailed site for those interested in this technology: Gallium Nitride future of EV chips (sae.org)

An interesting point that the SAE points out at the link above: 

  • Traction inverter: While an EV’s propulsion system (traction inverter plus electric motor) is five times more energy efficient than IC engines, with lower maintenance costs and longer lifespan, the upfront cost has on average been 2.5 times higher. Technology innovation in materials, magnetics and electronics is creating new-generation motors that are more energy efficient (less power loss through heat), compact and lighter in weight. GaN power semiconductors are key to the evolution of traction inverters capable of delivering more than a 70% power increase compared to inverters using traditional IGBTs.

One area that some that follow the EV world has seen has been Tesla getting farther and farther on a battery charge. This came as the SAE points out at the link above in a Tesla S with 75 kWh battery getting a 6 to 10% range increase by replacing the conventional  Si IGBT traction inverter with GaN-based inverter.

transphorm as does their competitors and the SAE all state that the EV market will expand with enhanced power-electronic performance via implementation of GaN transistors, creating system efficiencies and increased power densities required to achieve demanding vehicle size and range targets.

End result is we should see a wide range of EVs covering subcompact to full size at all price points eventually as the industry changes from ICE to EV.


ISPSD 2022 | Vancouver, Canada

TI Turns to GaN FETs to Cut Board Space and Boost Power Density in EVs - News (allaboutcircuits.com)

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