Utilizing GaN transistors in 48V communications DC-DC converter design: Page 3 of 5

December 06, 2016 // By Di Chen and Jason Xu, GaN Systems
Utilizing GaN transistors in 48V communications DC-DC converter design
As the world’s demand for data increases seemingly out of control, a real problem occurs in the data communications systems that have to handle this traffic.

gate drive, is an easy and wide tolerance gate drive level. From the data sheet, it can be seen that the gate voltage is recommended to operate from 0-6V, but is designed for a maximum voltage of 7V DC, and can tolerate spikes at the gate of up to 10V. This gate drive makes the device easier to use with many gate drivers, and allows for some tolerance, ripple and noise at the gate voltage without threatening to damage the device.


One of the most critical design considerations to make for a 48V DC-DC converter using GaN transistors is to minimize the dead time between one transistor turning off, and the other turning on. This is because in a GaN E-HEMT transistor there is no intrinsic, parasitic diode, nor is there a need for one. When the GaN transistor is forced to conduct current in the reverse direction, the reverse voltage can be as high as -2V or more. Therefore, the conduction losses during this time can be high. One might consider using a diode in parallel with the GaN transistor, but this is not required and might decrease efficiency and increase noise due to Qrr effects. Because it has no diode, the GaN E-HEMT has a higher reverse voltage. But because GaN has no Qrr (reverse recovery charge) it saves power, and possibly more importantly in communications systems, reduces noise and EMI significantly. Figure 3 shows the dead time, Td, of approximately 20 nsec.



Figure 3. Minimizing dead time (Td) can improve efficiency greatly


In order to study the effects in efficiency of both the gate voltage, as well as the dead time, the circuit of Figure 2 was simulated so that parameters could be varied. The output power was set to 240W (12V, 20A) and the gate drive and dead time varied. Table 2 shows that the ideal (highest efficiency) operation of the GS66108P

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