GaN Systems of Ontario, Canada says that many applications now require power densities three times as high as previous models did. However, this increase in power also produces more heat.
Preventing failure in systems with higher power and increased temperature traditionally results in the use of higher capacity fans and bigger heat sinks. However, if designers replace legacy power management ICs using silicon MOSFET and IGBTs with gallium nitride (GaN) transistor-based circuits, the electronic systems can provide three times the power with the same footprint, or the same power in one-third the size.
Thus, the power systems can be miniaturized or heatsinks and fans eliminated. Additionally, GaN Systems points out that with the analog IC industry‘s acceptance of GaN transistors as a fundamental building block, the power electronics component industry produces a steady stream of new controller and driver products that leverage the benefits of GaN.
Firms such as Analog Devices, Linear Technology, and Peregrine Semiconductor have developed products and reference designs that leverage GaN transistors. For example, Linear Technology was able to achieve the same output as their silicon solution in 50% the size in one design, using no fan while operating at higher efficiency.
Paul Wiener, VP of Strategic Marketing at GaN Systems, explained, “As more and more customers launch commercial systems that use GaN Systems’ GaN transistors in their power electronics designs, they save cost and gain a significant competitive advantage in their markets.”
At the 2017 Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC 2017), in Tampa, Florida, GaN Systems will showcase demonstrations of customer-built power devices using GaN transistors in their designs. According to the company, these demonstration systems reduced weight by as much as four times and size by as much as six times while operating without active cooling.