EPC Technical Articles

How GaN Power Transistors Drive High-Performance Lidar: Generating ultrafast pulsed power with GaN FETs

Light detection and ranging (lidar) is a versatile light-based remote sensing technology that recently has been the subject of great attention. It has shown up in a number of media venues and has even led to public debate about the engineering choices of a well-known electric car company, Tesla Motors. While this article is not going to enter the fray, it will provide some background on lidar and discuss its strong connection to power electronics technologies.

Published in: IEEE Power Electronics Magazine ( Volume: 4, Issue: 1, March 2017 )
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EPC eGaN moves closer to the ideal capabilities of the power element

Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) has dealt another blow to the silicon MOSFET power element with its Generation 5 (Gen5) process enhancements, bringing improved performance while decreasing the cost of off-the-shelf Gallium Nitride transistors and shrinking their die size and board footprint.

Alex Lidow, EPC’s CEO/co-founder, and his team have once again put their expertise to work in their efforts to provide designers these unique power solution choices for new markets that need performance beyond what silicon devices have been able to provide. The team’s technical capabilities and in-depth understanding, even into the quantum mechanics of the process, are enabling both better performance as well as shrinking the size and cost of their solutions

March 15, 2017
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Gallium Nitride maker EPC takes a big step forward in its quest to kill silicon chips

The $330 billion silicon chip industry is the foundation of everything electronic. But it’s slowing down as it reaches a new level of maturity that is prompting a bunch of mergers and acquisitions.

That’s why Alex Lidow, an industry pioneer and the chief proponent of an alternative material to silicon — gallium nitride (GaN) — feels like his time has come. His company, Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), is unveiling a new generation of eGaN chips that are half the size of previous chips and have significantly higher performance.

March 15, 2017
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How we devised a wirelessly powered television set

Televisions can get their content wirelessly, but there is one set of wires they still need: those in their power cord. The consumer electronics industry has floated ideas for freeing TVs from their power cords, but this goal remains elusive. There are several reasons, such as the difficultly of meeting high-power requirements for large-screen TVs and the need for identifying an economical technology. Nevertheless, eGaN FETs could play a role in making TVs truly cordless devices.

Power Electronic Tips
February, 23, 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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Wireless power challenges and opportunities

Wireless power transfer (WPT) technology is destined, in the very near future, to rock the electrics and electrical world we live in. Eric Giler, now president of WiTricity, an MIT spinoff, gave an excellent TED presentation in 2009 entitled, "A demo of wireless electricity." In this demonstration, Giler powered a small TV via wireless power transfer—that was 2009. We have come a long way since then; please read on for a technical glimpse into this amazing field (pun intended) of opportunity for designers.

EDN Network
January 26, 2017
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Podcast: Bloomberg Radio Interview with Alex Lidow at CES 2017

EPC CEO and Co-Founder, Alex Lidow, discusses the life changing applications on display at CES with Bloomberg Radio. Applications such as LiDAR for autonomous cars with the potential to disrupt the transportation industry and wireless power with the potential to eliminate power cords are highlighted as well as how GaN enables these new technologies.

Listen to Interview
January, 2017

Velodyne LiDAR Announces Breakthrough Design for Miniaturized, Low-Cost Solid-State LiDAR Sensors

Velodyne LiDAR Inc., the recognized global leader in Light, Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, today announced a groundbreaking design for a solid-state LiDAR sensor that can deliver a subsystem cost of under $50 U.S. when sold in high-volume manufacturing scale.

Venture Beat
December, 13, 2016
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Velodyne Says It's Got a "Breakthrough" in Solid State Lidar Design

Lidar is a fantastic sensor for autonomous cars. Most companies developing self-driving vehicles seem to agree that the massive amount of long range, high accuracy data that you get from lidar is necessary, especially for complicated and variable urban environments. Really, the only reason why there's been so much focus on getting autonomy to work with just cameras and radar is that cameras and radar are cheap, and lidar is ridiculously expensive.

IEEE Spectrum
December, 13, 2016
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Velodyne Unveils Lower-Cost LiDAR In Race For Robo-Car Vision Leadership

Carmakers and tech firms competing to develop automated vehicles seek a combination of sensors and cameras that provide maximum perception and visibility of surroundings at a cost that’s manageable for mass production.

December, 13, 2016
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Taiwan Technology Standards Agency Introduces AirFuel Alliance's Resonant Wireless Charging Standard

The AirFuel™ Alliance, a global consortium of industry leaders focused on enabling and accelerating the adoption of wireless power technology, signed a Letter of Intent today with the Taiwan Association of Information and Communication Standards (TAICS), to establish a wireless charging ecosystem in Taiwan by introduction of AirFuel's resonant technology standard.

The AirFuel-driven ecosystem will be capable of supporting consumers and businesses with interoperable wireless charging options in a variety of public places – from coffee shops to airports to hotels – thanks to the AirFuel resonant standard and integrated network. AirFuel Alliance chairman, Ron Resnick said, "By introducing AirFuel's resonant technology into Taiwan's wireless charging ecosystem, TAICS is further establishing Taiwan as a global innovator and leader in wirelessly powered deployments."

eGaN Technology Reliability and Physics of Failure - Gate Voltage Stress Reliability

The previous installment in this series focused on the physics of failure surrounding thermo-mechanical reliability of EPC eGaN wafer level chip-scale packages. A fundamental understanding of the potential failure modes under voltage bias is also important. This installment will provide an overview of the physics of failure associated with voltage bias at the gate electrode of gallium nitride (GaN) field effect transistors (FETs). Here we look at the case of taking the gate control voltage to the specified limit and beyond to investigate how eGaN FETs behave over a projected lifetime.

Planet Analog
Chris Jakubiec
November 29, 2016
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Faster, Smarter, Better: The Next Chip Revolution


The world around us will soon be engulfed by machines that affect our living spaces, our bodies, and our experience of light and sound, powered by a novel combination of semiconductors and miniature engines. Tasks as basic as charging a smartphone or cooking an egg—and as complex as scanning for colon cancer or powering flying drones on long journeys—stand to be transformed.

October 22, 2016
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Tesla starts Autopilot upgrades tonight

Tesla Motors is releasing a new version of Autopilot overnight, adding features the company says will make it safer and more reliable. Investigators are probing what role the self-driving system played in a pair of fatal crashes in Florida and China.

Silicon Beat
September 21, 2016
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Why We'll Soon Be Living In A Class D World

Class A has been the serious audiophile's gold standard for decades. Today however, we are at the early stages of a seismic shift towards widespread Class D audiophile adoption. Why? Because a new type of Class D audio is quickly approaching the performance of Class A, with benefits not enjoyed by the reigning incumbent. A new transistor technology called Gallium Nitride (GaN) is poised to uproot the high-end audio world. In fact, GaN-based Class D is much more power-efficient than traditional, MOSFET-based Class D and offers orders of magnitude better performance.

Audiophile Review
September 17, 2016
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LiDAR, not just radar and cameras, will be critical to self-driving car safety

The chief technology officer of a technology supplier that enables Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot driving technology believes the carmaker is pushing the safety envelope too far.

"It is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner," Amnon Shashua, CTO and executive chairman at Israel-based Mobileye NV, told Reuters Wednesday.

September 15, 2016
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How This Tech in Self-Driving Cars Is Paving a Road Beyond Silicon

In the future, self-driving cars will require laser-based sensing tech, and these systems will need new types of high-speed transistors and chips that can beat out silicon.

That’s the assertion of Alex Lidow, a Stanford PhD physicist, entrepreneur, and CEO and founder of Efficient Power Conversion (commonly called EPC), a company based in El Segundo, Calif. that makes transistors and chips out of a material that operates more quickly and efficiently—and costs less than silicon.

September 8, 2016
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eGaN Technology Reliability and Physics of Failure - Strain on solder joints

The first three installments in this series covered field reliability experience and stress test qualification of EPC’s enhancement-mode gallium nitride (eGaN) field effect transistors (FETs) and integrated circuits (ICs). Excellent field reliability that was documented is the result of applying stress tests covering the intended operating conditions the devices will experience within applications. Of equal importance is understanding the underlying physics of how eGaN devices will fail when stressed beyond intended operating conditions (e.g. datasheet parameters and safe operating area). This installment will take a deeper dive into the physics of failure centered around thermo-mechanical reliability of eGaN wafer level chip-scale packages (WLCSP).

Planet Analog
Chris Jakubiec
September 7, 2016
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Documenting GaN Technology Reliability after Millions of Device Hours of Rigorous Stress Testing

EPC Phase Eight Reliability Report documents a combined total of over 8 million GaN device-hours with zero failures. The report examines, in detail, the stress tests that EPC devices are subjected to prior to release as qualified products and analyzes the physics of failure.

Bodo’s Power Systems
September 1, 2016
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EPC engineers demonstrate the capabilities of the EPC9121 multi-mode wireless power charging kit at PCIM Asia 2016

Efficient Power Conversion Corporation (EPC) shares the immediate availability of a complete demonstration multi-mode wireless power charging kit, the EPC9121, for simplifying the evaluation process of using eGaN FETs and ICs for highly efficient multi-mode wireless power charging systems that can cut across any standard used in the receiving units.

The superior characteristics of eGaN® FETs and ICs enable a lower cost single transmit amplifier solution that can wirelessly charge devices regardless of the wireless power standard used in the receiving device.

View video of the latest EPC9121 demo kit with engineers at PCIM Asia 2016, and the related interview