From E-Bikes to Tablets, New GaN Chargers Power Multiple Devices at Once
GaN chargers are leveraging fundamental wide-bandgap benefits to “transform” the power electronics industry.
A slew of GaN chargers have recently been released, each of which highlights the disruptive nature of GaN technology in the power electronics field. Compared to silicon, GaN's fundamental characteristics make it a better candidate for high-voltage and high-current applications.
Gallium nitride (GaN) exhibits characteristics that give it a higher breakdown voltage and improved on-resistance compared to silicon, making it a shoo-in for power electronics applications. Image used courtesy of Solid_State [CC BY-SA 4.0]
Since GaN is still relatively new compared to silicon, this article delves into three newly announced GaN innovations and lends insight into how power devices may evolve as GaN technologies are further developed.
E-Bike GaN Chargers
Kicking off the roundup, Wise-integration recently announced its embedded charger/battery solution for the next generation of e-bikes. The e-bike, created in partnership with Savoy Group, is aimed at reducing the overall size and weight of e-bike chargers to make charging easier and more convenient.
The half-bridge building block implemented in the WiseGaN platform establishes a fundamental building block for e-bike chargers. Image used courtesy of Wise-integration
The Cocotte e-bike makes use of Wise-integration’s WiseGaN and WiseWare technology to create a highly-integrated solution for battery charging. The WiseGaN platform leverages the high breakdown voltage and current tolerance of GaN technology to accomplish the necessary power conditioning on-chip, while the WiseWare technology facilitates high performance with its optimized, GaN-based chips.
For other applications outside e-bike chargers, WiseGaN supports up to 650 V inputs and switching frequencies above 1 MHz and is currently offered in both half-bridge and discrete form factors. These specs, in conjunction with the 13 A current limit, highlight GaN’s ability to control power at a higher density.
Tiny 65 W Chargers for Multiple Devices
In a similar vein, Navitas and GravaStar have rolled out their 65 W USB-A/C chargers in the likeness of Transformers movie characters. These chargers, termed Alpha65, make use of Navitas’s GaNSense power control IC to produce a lightweight, high-performing charging system.
USB-A/C chargers take on a Transformer aesthetic. Image (modified) used courtesy of Navitas
The GaNSense IC is said to reduce size and weight since it can autonomously protect, sense, and perform basic control of the GaN power electronics. In addition, Navitas has reported “lossless current sensing” using GaNSense electronics, making it an extremely efficient solution.
The “lossless” current sensing technique used by GaNSense allows for easier power management and higher current capabilities. Image used courtesy of Navitas
As with all GaN electronics, the power IC makes use of GaN’s high breakdown field to realize systems that are both smaller and more robust to high voltages. To make the best use of these characteristics, however, silicon control electronics still play an important role, as is shown by the GaNSense product line.
240 W Desktop Charger
Rounding off the GaN-powered lineup, Anker has recently presented an updated USB-C power adapter lineup as a response to the e-waste problem. Instead of purchasing (or receiving) multiple power adapters with each device, Anker is aiming to make a single adapter that can power multiple devices.
Anker’s latest desktop power adapter makes use of GaNPrime technology to accomplish highly-efficient power conversion, with an energy conversion efficiency of up to 95%. This, combined with the adapter’s reported 240 W output, makes it a tidy solution for desktop power.
The GaNPrime desktop charger from Anker can reportedly provide up to 240 W using a single desktop charger, reducing the amount of e-waste that will be produced. Image used courtesy of Anker
Each desktop charger comes with four USB ports (3x Type-C and 1x Type-A), providing up to 240 W across all ports and 140 W per port. As an intuitive feel for how much power it can provide, the charger can reportedly fast charge two MacBooks at the same time (provided one is a 14” model). Anker is expected to continue developing its GaNPrime lineup, providing consumers with more power availability in smaller packages.
GaN on the Rise
Despite its relatively recent uptick in usage compared to silicon, GaN electronics are quickly becoming a mainstream solution for high-power control. The inherent benefits combined with the innovation seen in both industry and academia have made GaN a viable solution to all sorts of problems requiring fast and efficient control of high-voltage, high-current lines.