A €10m project is aiming to deliver the world’s most energy-efficient GaN power modules.
Cambridge GaN Device (CGD) is working with the Compound Semiconductor Catapult in Newport and Infineon Technologies and 11 other European partners on the GANEXT project, part of the PENTA Programme. The aim is to develop highly compact prototypes of next generation Gallium Nitride power modules for both low and high power applications.
Achieving the target 650V modules requires a complex balance of GaN device technology, high-frequency drivers, magnetics, smart controllers and end-user dedicated applications in many areas of power electronics. The GaN chip will have integrated sensing and driving elements to be combined with silicon and GaN low-voltage logic, control and level-shift silicon-on-insulator (SOI) gate drive circuitry. A dedicated package for the power module will include the power, control, and drive circuitry.
The partners include advICo microelectronics GmbH, Lyra Electronics, Besi Netherlands, MACCON Elektroniksysteme, Neways Technologies BV, SUMIDA Components & Modules GmbH, Eindhoven University of Technology, Signify BV, Fraunhofer IMS, Technische Universität Dortmund, Infineon Technologies.
Interestingly CGD is the sole supplier of GaN power devices which are at the heart of the power modules, with Infineon as a commercial module maker. Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) was spun out of the High Voltage Microelectronics and Sensors group in the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University in 2016 to develop GaN on silicon devices
“The Penta project creates a tremendous opportunity for CGD to engage with leading-edge companies in the area of power electronics,” said Dr Giorgia Longobardi, CGD’s founder and CEO. “Not only will the project advance the knowledge in GaN technology and provide insights into its complex facets, but will aim at delivering fully-working prototypes in lighting, motor drives, converter blocks for renewable energies and on-board chargers for automotive with record specifications and outstanding performance.”
“The quality of the Penta consortium is remarkable and I have no doubt that we will deliver on the promises to make GaN technology a great success in the market,” added Prof Florin Udrea, professor in semiconductor engineering, CTO and founder. “There is also a broader impact in adding our contribution to our ultimate quest for better use of energy resources and a cleaner environment. The Penta project is the right platform to help CGD in its mission, to shape the future of power electronics.”
CGD is developing a range of GaN-on-silicon transistors for different applications which would enable to push the boundaries significantly in conversion systems in terms of efficiency and power density using GaN-on-Si to benefit from larger and lower cost wafers.
These devices can be driven in a similar way to silicon transistors to make them easier to integate into the modules using standard silicon MOSFET drivers as well as microcontrollers. and complements this with additional smart features and protection functions, fully embedded into its product solutions.