EPC Technical Articles

CES 2022: GaN Technology for the Next Future

The year 2021 was a transitional year in which the world decided to open its doors to GaN. In this interview with Power Electronics News during CES week, GaN industry experts confirmed that GaN is now proving its superiority over silicon.

Power Electronics News
January, 2022
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GaN Devices for Smaller, Lighter, Smoother Motor Drives

Today, the permanent magnet motor, also known as DC brushless motor (BLDC), is widely used and offers higher torque capability per cubic inch and higher dynamics when compared to other motors. So far, silicon-based power devices have been dominant in the inverter electronics, but today their performance is nearing their theoretical limits. There is an increasing need for higher power density. Gallium nitride (GaN) transistors and ICs have the best attributes to satisfy these needs.

Power Systems Design
November, 2021
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FET Roundup: eGaN FETs, Next-gen SiC FETs, and “RibbonFETs” Hit the Scene

This month has been a busy one in the FET space. Here are a few FETs from EPC, UnitedSiC, and Intel that depart from traditional silicon transistors in interesting ways.

All About Circuits
October, 2021
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Meeting the Power and Magnetic Design Challenges of Ultra-Thin, High-Power Density 48 V DC-DC Converters for Ultra-Thin Computing Applications

Over the past decade computers, displays, smart phones and other consumer electronics systems have become thinner while also becoming more powerful. As a result, the market continues to increase its demand for thinner power supply solutions with greater power density. This article examines the feasibility of adopting various non-isolated dc-dc step-down topologies for an ultra-thin 48 V to 20 V rated to 250 W. It examines the pros and cons of various non-isolated topologies and how the topology impacts the choice of the power transistors and magnetics, specifically the inductors, as these two components account for the bulk of the losses in a converter. The article also undertakes a detailed analysis of the challenges to design thin inductors for these applications, including examining the factors that drive inductor losses, inductor size, and the design tradeoffs, including the impact on EMI. For this work, an ultrathin multilevel converter topology was selected, built, and tested. The experimental results obtained from this converter were used to further refine the operating setting and component selections that resulted in a peak efficiency exceeding 98%.

Michael de Rooij, EPC
Quentin Laidebeur, Würth Elektronik

IEEE Power Electronics Magazine
September, 2021
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Why Motors are Smaller, Faster, and More Precise with GaN

With the growing adoption of and increasing applications for GaN, Bodo Arlt has taken the opportunity to talk to EPC’s CEO and Co-Founder, Alex Lidow to discuss what he believes is the next big market for this evolving technology

Bodo’s Power Systems
September, 2021
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Bodo’s Wide Bandgap Expert Talk - GaN Session - June 2021

A roundtable discussion with GaN industry experts hosted by Bodo’s Power Systems. Guests included:

  1. Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder of Efficient Power Conversion
  2. Doug Bailey, Vice President Marketing & Applications Engineering at Power Integrations
  3. Dilder Chowdhury, Director, Strategic Marketing, Power GaN Technology at Nexperia
  4. Tom Ribarich, Sr. Director Strategic Marketing at Navitas Semiconductor

Using GaN FETs can be as simple as using Silicon FETs – an example in 48V systems

In this article, the author introduces a GaN FET compatible analog controller that yields a low bill-of-material count and give designers the ability to design a synchronous buck converter in the same simple way as using silicon FETs, and offers superior performance for 48 V power systems.

Power Electronics News
April, 2021
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GaN ePower Stage IC-Based Inverter for Battery-Powered Motor Drive Applications

GaN transistors and ICs allow increasing power density in motor drive applications by eliminating electrolytic capacitors in the input filter. The superior switching behavior of GaN helps to remove dead time and obtain un-matched sinusoidal voltage and current waveforms for smoother, silent operation.

Bodo’s Power Systems
April, 2021
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GaN Is Revolutionizing Motor Drive Applications

In last month’s Safety & Compliance column in How2Power, “WBG Semiconductors Pose Safety And EMI Challenges In Motor Drive Applications,”[1]Kevin Parmenter made some assertions about the difficulties of using SiC, and to a lesser extent GaN, power semiconductors in large motor-drive applications. This commentary is a response to that article, showing that GaN can be a game changer in low-voltage integrated motors.

February, 2021
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Layout Considerations for GaN Transistor Circuits

Gallium nitride (GaN) transistors have been in mass production for over 10 years. In their first few years of availability, the fast switching speed of the new devices – up to 10 times faster than the venerable Si MOSFET – was the main reason for designers to use GaN FETs. As the pricing of GaN devices normalized with the MOSFET, coupled with the expansion of a broad range of devices with different voltage ratings and power handling capabilities, much wider acceptance was realized in mainstream applications such as DC-DC converters for computers, motor drives for robots, and e-mobility bikes and scooters. The experience gained from the early adopters has led the way for later entrants into the GaN world get into production faster. This article is the first in a series of articles discussing three topics that can help power systems designers achieve the most out of their GaN-based designs at the lowest cost. The three topics are: (1) layout considerations; (2) thermal design for maximum power handling; and, (3) EMI reduction techniques for lowest cost.

Bodo’s Power Systems
January, 2021
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GaN HEMTs Outperform MOSFETs in Key Growth Applications

Silicon power MOSFETs have not kept pace with the evolutionary changes in the power electronics industry, where factors such as efficiency, power density, and smaller form factors are the main demands of the community. Silicon MOSFETs have reached their theoretical limits for power electronics, and with board space at a premium, power system designers need alternatives. Gallium nitride (GaN) is a high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT) semiconductor that is adding real value in emerging applications.

August, 2020
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GaN eases Silicon out

Just like life’s reality, when the aged leaves the center stage for the younger ones, Silicon is taking the bow. The advent and adoption of Gallium Nitride (GaN) have succeeded in gradually easing out the old reliable Silicon. For over four decades, power management efficiency and cost have improved steadily as innovations in power MOSFET structures, technology, and circuit topologies have kept pace with the growing need for electrical power. In the new millennium, however, the rate of improvement has slowed dramatically as the silicon power MOSFET approaches its theoretical bounds. At the same time, the new material, GaN is steadily progressing on its journey toward a theoretical performance boundary that is 6,000 times better than the aging silicon MOSFET and 300 times better than the best GaN products on the market today.

July 16, 2020
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Class D audio, Gallium-Nitride versus Silicon – Virtual Roundtable (part 2 of 2)

In this second part of EEWorld’s “virtual roundtable” discussion on Class D audio, our panelists delve into the impact that the emergence of gallium-nitride (GaN) is having on Class D designs: Where are silicon devices still dominant? What are the performance benefits of using GaN in Class D amplifiers? And what are the anticipated future trends of GaN versus Silicon in Class D amplifiers? Joining us for this virtual roundtable are Joshua LeMaire (JL), Audio Systems Architect at Analog Devices; Steve Colino (SC), Vice President Strategic Technical Sales with Efficient Power Conversion; and Jens Tybo Jensen (JTJ), Head of Application Engineering for Class D Audio at Infineon Technologies.

EEWorld Online
July, 2020
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GaN and 48 V – Where are We and Where are We Going?

Three years ago, the cost of making medium voltage eGaN FETs fell below the cost of equivalently rated power MOSFETs. At that time EPC decided to use the performance and cost advantages of eGaN FETs to aggressively pursue applications with input, or output, voltage around 48 V. Specifically, automotive and computer applications is where 48 V conversion is becoming the new architecture, the new standard for power systems.

Power Systems Design
March 31, 2020
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GaN Transistor for Several Power Applications

Silicon power MOSFETs have not kept pace with the evolutionary changes in the power electronics industry where factors such as efficiency, power density, and smaller form factors are the main demands of the community. The power electronics industry has seen the theoretical limit of silicon MOSFETs reached and now needs to move to a new element. Gallium Nitride or GaN is a highly mobile semiconductor electron semiconductor (HEMT) that is proving to be a real added value in meeting new applications.

Power Electronics News
March 25, 2020
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Go-ahead for GaN

It’s getting harder to avoid using GaN power transistors and ICs, says Alex Lidow. There are many reasons to use GaN-on-Si power transistors such as eGaN FETs, in telecoms, vehicles, healthcare and computing. Smaller, faster, lower cost, and more integrated, GaN-on-Si devices have spent a decade gaining the confidence and trust of designers across the spectrum of power conversion applications.

Electronic Specifier
November 20, 2019
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DC-DC Conversion for 48 V – 12 V Automotive Applications

GaN transistors, with favorable figures of merit (FOM) for 48 V applications, can provide a reduction in size, weight, and bill of material costs. This article presents a five-phase, fully regulated, bidirectional 48 V to 12 V DC-DC converter. An advancedthermalmanagement solution suitable for use with eGaN FETs results in a system that can provide 3kW of power at an efficiency exceeding 97.5% into a 14.5 V battery.

Power Systems Design
July, 2019
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It's Time to Rethink Power Semiconductor Packaging

When the issue invariably turns to the packaging of the power semiconductor – transistor, diode, or integrated circuit – the requests for improvement fall into six categories:

1. Can you make the package smaller?
2. Can you reduce the package inductance?
3. Can you make the product with lower conduction losses?
4. Can you make the package more thermally efficient?
5. Can you sell the product at a lower price?
6. Can you make the package more reliable?

Why go for GaN?

GaN technology has matured to a point where it can challenge traditional silicon technology.  Gallium nitride(GaN)-on-silicon low voltage power devices have enabled many new applications since commercial availability began in 2010. New markets, such as light detection and ranging (LiDAR), envelope tracking, and wireless power, emerged due to the superior switching speed of GaN. These new applications have helped develop a strong supply chain, low production costs, and an enviable reliability record. All of this provides adequate incentive for the more conservative design engineers in applications, such as DC/DC converters, AC/DC converters, and automotive to start their evaluation process. In this article, the factors leading to the rapid acceleration of the adoption rate are explored.

Electronics Weekly
January 2019
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eGaN FET-Based Synchronous Rectification

As GaN-on-Si becomes more common in DC-DC converter designs, questions often arise from experienced designers about the impact of the unique characteristics of GaN transistors when used as synchronous rectifiers (SRs). In particular, the third quadrant off-state characteristics, better known as “body diode” conduction in Si MOSFETs, which is activated during converter dead-time, is of interest. For this article, the focus will be on the similarities and differences of Si MOSFETs and eGaN® FETs when operated as a “body diode” and outline their relative advantages and disadvantages.

Bodo’s Power Systems
By David Reusch & John Glaser
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