Technology Roundtable Report on Standards for GaN Power Electronics Just Released

The Institute for Energy Efficiency has just released a report that details the outcomes of the Institute’s Standards for GaN Power Electronics Technology Roundtable, held on March 11-12, 2014, at UC Santa Barbara. The roundtable was facilitated by Prof. Umesh Mishra and brought together 24 leaders in the field of GaN power electronics, including representatives from industry, standards organizations and academics, for a two-day technology roundtable to establish a conceptual framework for the development of standards for GaN-based power electronics.

Roundtable discussions focused on three main objectives: the development of a GaN-device product roadmap to set market expectations of product rollouts; an agreement on the applications most suitable for the adoption of GaN-based power devices; and the need to establish performance and efficiency standards for GaN-based power device manufacturing.

Discussions addressed some of the challenges surrounding the implementation of GaN-based power devices and possible solutions. For instance, GaN substrates are not yet available in commercial quantities and at competitive prices. There are also widespread misconceptions on the relevance of GaN technology with many applications.

The report recognized the growing opportunity for GaN-based devices in the power electronics industry and participants agreed on applications where the use of GaN would be best suited. Performance and standards for GaN device manufacturing were also recommended and participants suggested next steps for engaging with standards organizations, specifically JEDEC, NIST and IEEE. 

Background on GaN-based Power Electronics

The power electronics industry in the past has largely been based on the use of silicon (Si) semiconductor material for the transformation and control of electrical power. Si-based power electronic devices, however, are reaching their capacity in power levels and switching frequency, which are only expected to increase rapidly in the near future. As a result, technological advancements in power electronics have included the introduction of gallium nitride (GaN)-based power electronics as a replacement for Si-based devices. GaN devices hold promise for much greater performance and a higher switching frequency; there is therefore potential for increased energy efficiency in a variety of power electronic market segments such as computing and communications, automotive and appliances.

To download the full report, click here.

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