Gallium nitride devices can reduce the volume by 6000 times compared to silicon devices

Nextbigfuture interviewed Alex Lidow CEO of Efficient Power Conversion They have technologies based on gallium nitride that are faster, more efficient, and lower cost than silicon-based devices. Their goal is to replace silicon in power, analog, and eventually digital applications.

This first article will discuss gallium nitride in general and the application of LIDAR. A follow up article will discuss the application of gallium nitride in data centers, medical application, power transfer and other applications

At APEC 2016, EPC showcased more than 25 applications where GaN is Changing the Way We Live. In the video below, Alex Lidow, CEO, takes a “walk through our booth,” showing eGaN FETs and ICs in a wide range of applications including single stage 48 V to POL DC-DC conversion, a 700 W 1/8th Brick DCX, RF amplifier for MRI medical equipment, wireless power transfer, LED lighting, class-D audio, LiDAR mapping, and envelope tracking.

Today’s eGaN® FET’s ability to switch ten times faster than the aging power MOSFET gives LiDAR systems superior resolution and faster response time. The sharp switching transitions that are possible with eGaN FETs enable greater accuracy. These characteristics enable new and broader applications for LiDAR such as real-time motion detection for video gaming, computers that respond to hand gestures, and fully autonomous vehicles.

Gallium nitride can have switching speeds 10 to 100 times faster. For LIDAR faster speed means more accuracy.

Light travels about one foot in one nanosecond. Picosecond switching speed can mean theoretical accuracy down to 200 microns.

Near term gallium nitride can rise and fall in 100 picoseconds for 2 centimeter resolution.

Better an more accurate LIDAR can be used to make stage 4 autonomous self driving cars.

LIDAR needs to switch 10 to 20 amps of current and send out a pulse of 30000 photons. Gallium nitride can do it but silicon cannot.

LIDAR can directly detect the primary threats to self driving cars and cameras would only be used for reading road signs.

Gallium nitride can make of the LIDAR smaller. Currently 10-20% of the size but potentially 6000 times smaller.

Multiple, compact LIDAR systems with no moving parts could be mounted at multiple places on a vehicle