System-level optimization of GaN-based power devices
Gallium nitride-based, or GaN power electronics, are highly efficient, lighter and more robust than silicon carbide (SiC)-based electronics. However, due to their complicated cooling needs and other physically challenges, more development is needed for the widespread adoption of GaN technology. Using imec’s flexible GaN technology platform for power devices, the SloGaN project aims at increasing GaN circuits integration and components packaging suitability as to improve efficiency and dimensions. These second-generation GaN power stage components will be used in reference applications to validate these improvements.
A joint approach to developing power electronics
The current practice in the development of power electronics of all kinds is to optimize component, circuit and system development one after the other. This eventually leads to reduced performance, as this approach neglects the impacts of interactions between the elements. By jointly developing GaN devices, packages, drivers and circuits, it is possible to gain evidence-based insights into performance, efficiency and dimensions achievable in moving from SiC to GaN power electronics.
Creating a set of common GaN power reference circuits
Researchers from imec/EnergyVille, Leuven University and industrial partners with expertise in software, drivers and circuit manufacturing will collaborate to innovate end-to-end GaN solutions for a set of common reference circuits. This innovation is made possible through imec’s GaN technology platform, which enables the SloGaN consortium to develop application-specific power switch designs.
Developments culminating in multi-application circuits
The consortium’s five key innovation goals are:
- developing an updated component roadmap for GaN-integrated circuit components;
- developing a low-loss driver set for GaN power components;
- designing improved models for the order, reliability and thermal performance of components;
- demonstrating a circuit mounting technique for GaN-power stages with higher thermal resilience, reliability and performance;
- validating these improvements in the resulting two multi-application representative circuits.
Contributing to widespread growth
With this project, the SloGaN consortium is poised to impact the emerging GaN power semiconductor market – which is estimated to surpass $300 million in value in the next five years. The results of the project will drive further tech developments and make it easier for consortium partners to enter into collaborations with other technology leaders.