GaN-based Solutions Emerge To Meet Control and Charging Needs

April 08, 2023 by Ramsha Jawaid

Aiming to bring the benefits of GaN technology into play, power IC vendors are rolling out new devices for control and automotive charging applications.

In recent years, the electronics industry has witnessed a paradigm shift in power management solutions, particularly in the realm of charging devices. The advent of gallium nitride (GaN) technology has revolutionized the way engineers approach power conversion and delivery systems, effectively challenging the long-standing dominance of silicon-based chargers.

This transformation can be attributed to GaN's remarkable material properties. These include a wider bandgap, higher breakdown voltage, and superior thermal conductivity compared to its silicon counterpart.

As a result, GaN-based chargers boast enhanced efficiency, reduced size, and lower energy losses, offering an unprecedented level of performance that caters to the growing demands of modern electronic devices. 

In this article, we roundup three recent GaN products that harness the full potential of GaN technology to deliver faster, more efficient, and environmentally friendly charging experiences.


GaN SoC for Closed-loop Control

For its part, Navitas Semiconductor recently launched its GaNSense Control device, a GaN-based system-on-chip (SoC) designed for fast charging applications. The GaNSense Control provides real-time, closed-loop control of GaN power devices, allowing for improved efficiency and reliability, according to the company.


GaNSense Control ICs provide real-time, closed-loop control of GaN power devices.

GaNSense Control ICs provide real-time, closed-loop control of GaN power devices. Image used courtesy of Navitas Semiconductor


One of the significant features of the GaNSense Control  ICs is their high level of integration. The ICs include digital and analog circuits, gate drivers, and protection features in a single package, reducing the need for external components and simplifying the design process.

The GaNSense Control IC also offers real-time current and voltage sensing capabilities. The solution also provides a comprehensive and easy-to-use portfolio of co-packaged and standalone solutions, offering a high degree of flexibility for power designers.

This includes NV958x high-frequency quasi-resonant (HFQR) flyback controllers with GaNSense power ICs and NV97xx synchronous rectifier (SR) controllers with power FETs. Navitas claims these provide maximum efficiency at any load condition compared to conventional rectifiers.


GaN-based Flyback Switcher ICs Boast High Efficiency

Meanwhile, Power Integrations recently announced the launch of a 900 V GaN extension to its InnoSwitch3 family of flyback switcher ICs. The devices are based on the company’s proprietary PowiGaN technology. The two new 900 V switch option is now available on the InnoSwitch3-EP (industrial) and InnoSwitch3-AQ (automotive) product families—both of which employ Power Integration’s FluxLink isolation technology.

FluxLink provides a fully isolated secondary-to-primary communication without the need for optocouplers or secondary side feedback circuitry. Meanwhile, PowiGaN technology improves efficiency by reducing switching and conduction losses.

The InnoSwitch3 ICs are designed for use in isolated flyback topologies, which are commonly used in power adapters, chargers and open-frame offline power supplies. The ICs offer Si, SiC and GaN switch options with rated voltages from 725 V to 1700 V.

The chips are able to support ultra-wide range input designs and the 1200 V DC bus typically used in automotive applications. The 900 V InnoSwitch -3 devices can support output power up to 100 W. More information can be found in the data sheets for the InnoSwitch3-EP and the InnoSwitch3-AQ.


The InnoSwitch3-AQ is a CV/CC QR flyback switcher IC with Fluxlink feedback for automotive designs.

The InnoSwitch3-AQ is a CV/CC QR flyback switcher IC with Fluxlink feedback for automotive designs. Image used courtesy of Power Integrations


In an EV charging system, InnoSwitch3-AQ ICs are used are used to convert the high voltage DC bus voltage into low voltages to run cabin systems, provide Emergency Power (EPS), and deliver power to the gate drivers in the drivetrain and on-board-charger (OBC).

The high power density of in-vehicle power conversion is an engineering challenge, and it's complicated be the desire to eliminate heatsinks because of reliablity concerns an an enviroment where bumps and vibrations are common. All that means heat must be minimized. PowiGaN technology elimates up to 25% of the heat seen with conventional power switches, according to the company. This enables the removal of heatsinks even in high ambient temperature enviroments and ultta-compact power conversion stages. of the ICs can lead to significant heat generation, which can affect system performance and reliability. To help engineers optimize these designs, Power Integrations provides detaiiled reference design resources along with its PI Expert design software.


Reference Design For GaN-based On-board Charging

GaN Systems likewise recently rolled out a recent GaN solution with its new GaN-based 11 kW 800V On-Board Charger (OBC) Reference Design for electric vehicle (EV) charging systems. This reference design is aimed at solving common problems that plague conventional charging systems, including size, weight, and cost.

According to the company, one of the key benefits of the OBC reference design is its high power density, which is 36% higher than that of silicon-based chargers.


The GaN-based 11 kW 800 V OBC Reference Design shrinks BOM costs while boasting power density.

The GaN-based 11 kW 800 V OBC Reference Design shrinks BOM costs while boasting power density. Image used courtesy of GaN Systems


GaN Systems says that its OBC reference design also offers high efficiency—up to 98%. This not only helps to reduce the operating costs of the charger but also improves the overall range of the EV. The high power density and small footprint of the reference design make it an ideal solution for EV charging applications, where space is at a premium. 

According to the company, the GaN-based OBC reference design provides increased reliability and durability due to the higher voltage and temperature ratings of GaN devices and enables the charger to operate at higher temperatures without the risk of failure.


More Ahead this Year in GaN for Charging?

The release of these innovative products is revolutionizing the charging landscape and it will be intriguing to witness the GaN advancements that the upcoming year has in store.