EPC Technical Articles

Low-Voltage GaN FETs in Motor Control Application; Issues and Advantages: A Review

In the field of motion control, there is a growing use of GaN devices, especially in low voltage applications. This paper provides guidelines for designers on the optimal use of GaN FETs in motor control applications, identifying the advantages and discussing the main issues.

Energies Journal
October, 2021
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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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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 in Space Applications

Gallium nitride power device technology enables a new generation of power converters in space operating at higher frequencies, higher efficiencies, and greater power densities than everachievable before. GaN power devices can also exhibit superior radiation tolerance compared with Silicon MOSFETs depending upon their device design.

Power Electronics Europe
December, 2020
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The Ascent of GaN: Redefining Power Conversion with GaN-on-Si Integrated Circuits

Discrete power transistors, whether silicon-based or GaN-on-silicon, are entering their final chapter. GaN-on-Si integrated circuits offer higher performance in a smaller footprint with significantly reduced cost and less engineering required. This article details how the ascent of GaN is redefining power conversion.

Bodo’s Power Systems
October, 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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Gallium Nitride Integration: Breaking Down Technical Barriers Quickly

An integrated circuit made using GaN-on-Si substrates has been in production for over five years. The ultimate goal is to achieve a single component IC that merely requires a simple digital input from a microcontroller and produces a power output that drives a load efficiently, reliably under all conditions, in the smallest space possible, and economically. Discrete power transistors, whether silicon-based or GaN-on-Si, are entering their final chapter. Integrated GaN-on-Si can offer higher performance in a smaller footprint with significantly reduced engineering required.

IEEE Power Electronics Magazine
March 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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GaN in Space

This article discussed an oft forgotten or little-noticed part of the spacecraft enabling travel into outer space---power management in the space vehicle. Wide bandgap semiconductors like gallium nitride (GaN), silicon carbide (SiC), as well as diamond, are looking to be the most promising materials for future electronic components since the discovery of silicon. These technologies, depending upon their design, offer huge advantages in terms of power capability (DC and microwave), radiation insensitivity, high temperature and high frequency operation, optical properties and even low noise capability. Therefore, wide bandgap components are strategically important for the development of next generation space-borne systems. eGaN devices are quickly gaining momentum in the space industry and we will see many more applications for them by NASA and commercial contractors in future programs like Artemis and other programs in countries around the globe pursuing efforts into Space.

Power Systems Design
November, 2019
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GaN Makes a Frontal Attack on Silicon Power MOSFETS

Today’s GaN FETs are improving rapidly in size and performance. The benchmark devices are still 300 times away from their theoretical performance limits. The early GaN adopters needed the speed. Big examples were lidar systems for autonomous cars, drones, and robots, and 4G/LTE base stations. The volume has grown, and now GaN power devices are at a point where the prices are equivalent to the slower, bigger and aging power MOSFET. Thus, it is time for GaN’s frontal assault!

Bodo’s Power Systems
June 2019
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PSDtv - EPC on Why Silicon is Dead at APEC 2019

In this episode of PSDtv Alex Lidow, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) is at APEC 2019 in Anaheim and discusses why their GaN on Silicon devices make Silicon now dead.

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Gallium nitride is the silicon of the future

Last week, Anker debuted a tiny new power brick, crediting its small size with the component it uses instead of silicon: gallium nitride (GaN). It’s the latest example of the growing popularity of this transparent, glass-like material that could one day unseat silicon and cut energy use worldwide.

The Verge
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Facts Say About An Account from a Scientist: he saved the world's 15% energy consumption prior. Now, he discovers silicon's replacement material

This scientist got his Ph.D 40 years ago who saved the world's 15% energy consumption at one time. He is continuing his journey of innovations now in discovering silicon's replacement material for humankind.

My father always taught me that the true worth of an individual is measured based on their contribution to society. As I entered graduate school in 1975 I knew my passion was in the field of semiconductors, and I felt my best contribution to society would come from finding a successor to silicon. I did my graduate work in Gallium Arsenide, but realized by the time I received my PhD in 1977 that Gallium Arsenide’s prospects were limited as a semiconductor due to the basic materials properties, I went to work applying everything I learned to making better devices in silicon.

Fortune China
June 15, 2017
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GaN is Eyeing Silicon’s Data Center Lunch

As deep learning proliferates, the question of data center power density is once again on the rise, creating new business opportunities for specialized cloud services, hosted in facilities that can support north of 30 kW per rack, and companies in the power conversion space, who can tackle the density issue by making systems more energy efficient. Replacing silicon as the semiconductor material in power conversion chips with gallium nitrate, or GaN, leads to much smaller and more energy efficient devices that provide much faster switching.

Data Center Knowledge
February, 2017
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Why gallium nitride is '6,000 times better' than silicon

Silicon -- the core ingredient in semiconductors and the driving force behind the electronics industry -- is reaching its limit, says Alex Lidow, CEO of Efficient Power Conversion Corporation. His Los Angeles-based company is investigating the capacity of gallium nitride (GaN) to disrupt the $400 billion (£277bn) silicon industry with its improved powers of semiconducting. "This is the first 
time that there is a semiconductor that is both lower cost and has a higher performance than silicon," Lidow says.

Wired Magazine
Emma Bryce
March 31, 2016
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Energy-Saving Material Gets a Boost

The effort to take advantage of gallium nitride is partly a response to technical and economic factors that have slowed improvement in silicon-based chips.  While companies are still finding ways to fabricate smaller transistors in silicon, reductions in cost and power consumption have been more difficult to achieve. But gallium-nitride circuits can switch on and off much more quickly than silicon and handle higher voltages, said Alex Lidow, EPC’s chief executive. That makes the material particularly good for chores that involve power conversion.

Wall Street Journal
June 22, 2015
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Revenge Fuels Energy Fight

Power conversion involves creating tiny devices that convert electricity from one form to another, enabling all manner of electrical gadgets to function. Till now, silicon had been the preferred medium for power conversion processors, but as that element reaches the limits of its efficiency, attention has focused on new materials.

Los Angeles Business Journal
June 21, 2015
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