Industry White Papers

How GaN-on-Si Can Help Deliver Higher Efficiencies in Power Conversion and Power Management

September 04, 2020 by Infineon

How do GaN (gallium nitride), SiC (silicon carbide), silicon, and GaN-on-SiC compare? Learn how Infineon's CoolGaN™ HEMTs (high-electron-mobility transistors) provide improvements in power management.

Efficiency is a powerful driving force in all industries, as inefficiency often translates into unnecessarily high costs. In electronics, efficiency can also lead to limitations on overall performance or, if those limitations are not observed, a shortened product lifetime. The same market forces that impact all commerce and industry drive the pursuit of greater efficiency in power conversion.

Just as significantly, however, is the need for increased efficiency in order to enable higher power density. This will not only allow for smaller, lighter, and more reliable products but help lift the limitations on performance and deliver increased levels of power in key infrastructure such as data centers, as well as emerging applications like electric vehicles. 

 

Applications for CoolGaN™ HEMT power transistors

 

Power semiconductors have historically been based on a silicon substrate, however, while silicon is an excellent general-purpose semiconductor it has well-documented limitations when it comes to high voltages. The semiconductor industry has striven to overcome these limitations and has largely been relatively successful.

However, as the demand for more power continues unabated, the industry at large is moving away from silicon in favor of semiconductor materials that feature characteristics more suitable to power. These materials are classified as wide bandgap, which refers to the fact that they are physically different at the crystalline level to materials like silicon. These differences translate into several important characteristics, one of which is their ability to operate at higher switching frequencies while keeping the losses to a very low, manageable level.