Gallium nitride is ten times better than silicon now but could become 100 to 1000 times better to offset costs that are ten times higher

GaN field effect transistors (FETs) are now available as discrete transistors and as monolithic half-bridges, with performance 10 times better than the best commercial silicon MOSFET. But what happens when many devices are integrated to create a system on a single chip? What happens when the performance of that chip is 100 times better than silicon?

If we will look out 5 to 10 years we can easily see how a transformative change in semiconductor technology can transform our everyday world.

For the first time in 60 years, a new higher-performance semiconductor technology is less expensive to produce than the silicon counterpart. Gallium nitride (GaN), has demonstrated both a dramatic improvement in transistor performance and the ability to be produced at a lower cost than silicon. GaN transistors have unleashed new applications as a result of their ability to switch higher voltages and higher currents faster than any transistor before.

If we will look out 5 to 10 years we can easily see how a transformative change in semiconductor technology can transform our everyday world.

* no more wall sockets with wireless power transmission
* help make satellites ten times smaller
* no more colonoscopies with GaN in a pill

GaN Technology –Transforming the Future

Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), GaN Systems, Transphorm, and Panasonic are just a few of the companies working on widening the performance gap between GaN FETs from 10 times to 1000 times. As the performance gap widens and GaN technology is applied to more complex integrated circuits it will become the new building blocks for unforeseen applications.

It has previously been believed that GaN could become cheaper than silicon for performance and be a savior for Moore’s Law

“GaN outperforms all other RF materials for very high voltages (scores to hundreds of V), high power density (tens of KW/sq.cm), and high-frequency (GHz) applications. GaN-on-Diamond based systems outperform all other types of GaN by many fold, in particular GaN-on-SiC and GaN-on-Si – even after including the added material costs of diamond.”—Ejeckam

Transforming Medicine

Advances in technology are resulting in advances in medicine. Today there are major leaps forward in fields such as implantable systems, imaging, and prosthetics that are enabled by the emergence of GaN technology.

Wireless power is already having an impact on implantable systems such as heart pumps. Imaging technology is also improving at an extraordinary pace! The resolution of MRI machines is being improved through the development of smaller and more efficient sensing coils using GaN FETs and ICs. Diagnostic colonoscopies are about to become a thing of the past due to today’s GaN FETs that are small enough to fit inside an ingestible tablet with a micro-miniature imaging system inside. These types of non-invasive breakthroughs significantly reduce the cost of health care through early warning and non-invasive diagnostics. As we integrate entire systems on a single gallium nitride chip, miniaturization and image resolution further improves the standard of care while medical costs come down.

Electricity transformed – no more wall sockets

In 2015, wireless power systems using GaN technology will provide energy wirelessly to charge cell phones and tablets. And in the next 5 to 10 years, by integrating thin transmission coils in the floor tiles and the walls of buildings, the need for electrical wall sockets can be eliminated altogether.

GaN technology makes possible the efficient transmission of electricity at safe frequencies that are difficult for their silicon transistor ancestors. Taking GaN technology to higher voltages and higher frequencies extends the wireless power transfer distance.

Space

GaN FETs today perform 40 times better electrically and are inherently capable of withstanding 10 times the radiation of the aging radiation tolerant power MOSFET.

GaN technology applied to satellites can reduce the size of the electronics, eliminate the shielding required, and greatly improve the performance of the on-board payload.

Enhancement mode GaN transistors have shown a high tolerance for radiation such as experienced in space. As such they are well suited for communication and scientific satellite power and communications systems. Source: EPC

LED lighting

The penetration of gallium nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) wafers into the light-emitting diode (LED) market is forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69% from 2013 to 2020, by which time they will account for 40% of all GaN LEDs manufactured, according to a new report from market research firm IHS Inc.

SOURCES – EDN, Veeco

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