EPC Technical Articles

Silicon Is Dead…and Discrete Power Devices Are Dying

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, a new material, gallium nitride (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.

EETimes
June, 2020
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Go-Ahead for GaN

Smaller, faster, lower cost, and more integrated, GaN-on-Silicon devices have the confidence of designers across a spectrum of power conversion applications. In this article, Alex Lidow explains why it’s getting harder to avoid using GaN power transistors and ICs.

Electronic Specifier
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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.

PSDtv
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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-on-Silicon Power Devices: How to Dislodge Silicon-Based Power MOSFETs

Gallium nitride (GaN) power transistors designed for efficient power conversion have been in production for seven years. New markets, such as light detection and ranging, envelope tracking, and wireless charging, have emerged due to the superior switching speed of GaN. These markets have enabled GaN products to achieve significant volumes, low production costs, and an enviable reliability reputation. 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. So what are the remaining barriers to the conversion of the US$12 billion silicon power metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) market? In a word: confidence.

Alex Lidow
March, 2017
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Silicon Rival Stalks Apple, Google, Tesla-Facing Chip Markets

Silicon Valley's namesake raw material faces a promising new rival: gallium nitride (GaN). Some say the newcomer is poised to swarm the $30 billion semiconductor power supply market. It's a market that involves "anything that plugs into a wall" ranging from Apple (AAPL) iPhone chargers to Tesla Motors' (TSLA) luxury electric cars.

Investor's Business Daily
Allison Gatlin
July 2016
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A Silicon Pioneer Plays Taps for Silicon and Power Cords

Tuesday I was fortunate enough to have a meeting with Alex Lidow, founder of chip company EPC of El Segundo, California, and something of an luminary of the chip world. Lidow came up with the “power MOSFET,” a device that went on to be the basis of billions in semiconductor sales, in 1977.

His new company, whose initials stand for “Efficient Power Conversion,” proposes replacing silicon, the original basis of the MOSFET, and one of the most prevalent types of semiconductor around, with a different material, Gallium Nitride, commonly abbreviated as GaN — or “eGaN,” as Lidow calls the company’s new, improved form of GaN.

Barron's
Tiernan Ray
June 29, 2016
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eGaN vs. Silicon - Comparing Dead-time Losses for eGaN FETs and Silicon MOSFETs in Synchronous Rectifiers

There have been several comparisons of eGaN FETs with silicon MOSFETs in a variety of applications, including hard-switched, soft-switched, and high-frequency power conversion. These studies have shown that eGaN FETs have large efficiency and power density advantages over silicon MOSFETs. Here we’ll focus on the use of eGaN FETs in synchronous rectifier (SR) applications and the importance of dead-time management. We show that eGaN FETs can dramatically reduce loss due to dead-time in synchronous rectifiers above and beyond the benefits of low RDS(on)and charge.

Power Systems Design
By: Dr. John Glaser & Dr. David Reusch, Efficient Power Conversion
June 13, 2016
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GaN – Crushing Silicon One Application at a Time

Enhancement mode gallium nitride transistors have been commercially available for over four years and have infiltrated many applications previously monopolized by the aging silicon power MOSFET.

Power Pulse
By: Alex Lidow
October, 2013

Are GaN Transistors Ready for Prime Time?

Gallium Nitride transistors have been available since Eudyna and Nitronex first introduced depletion-mode RF transistors in about 2005. Since then many new companies have entered the field with both RF transistors (e.g. RFMD, Triquint, Cree, Freescale, Integra, HRL, M/A-COM, and others), and transistors designed to replace power MOSFETs in power conversion applications (e.g. Transphorm, International Rectifier, GaN Systems, microGaN, and Efficient Power Conversion). This article discusses if this ground swell of activity mean that GaN transistors are ready to replace power MOSFETs, and, if so, why?

By Alex Lidow, Ph.D., CEO, EPC
Power Pulse.Net

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GaN – the New Frontier for Power Conversion

Due to its advantages GaN will probably become the dominant technology. GaN has a much higher critical electric field than silicon which enables this new class of devices to withstand much greater voltage from drain to source with much less penalty in on-resistance.

By Alex Lidow, PhD
Bodo’s Power Systems
June, 2010

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Can Gallium Nitride Replace Silicon?

For the past three decades, Silicon-based power management efficiency and cost have shown steady improvement. In the last few years, however, the rate of improvement has slowed as the Silicon power MOSFET has asymptotically approached its theoretical bounds. Gallium Nitride grown on top of a silicon substrate could displace Silicon across a significant portion of the power management market.

By Alex Lidow, PhD
Power Electronics Europe
Issue 2, 2010

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GaN vs. Silicon in Power Management

Efficient Power Conversion Corporation (EPC) recently introduced the first enhancement-mode GaN-on-silicon power transistors designed specifically as power MOSFET replacements. These products were designed to be produced in high-volume at low cost using standard silicon manufacturing technology and facilities.

By Alex Lidow, PhD
ECN
March 2, 2010

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