Californian companies to collaborate on developing integrated GaN and Silicon devices

27-05-2015 |   |  By Paul Whytock

Hot on the heels of its recent tie-up with the Large Hadron Collider people at Cern, Switzerland, Integrated Device Technology (IDT) has announced its latest collaboration. The Californian chip company is teaming up with Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), a leading power electronics specialist that recently surprised the world of electronics by saying it has broken the price/performance barrier traditionally held by silicon based MOSFETS.

This market changing development was brought about by EPC's pioneering work on Gallium Nitride (GaN) whereby the company exploited existing process to create enhanced Gallium Nitride devices (eGaN).

So what are the exact technology areas that these two companies are partnering on?

First up will be development work on communications and computing systems. In these areas GaN’s low capacitance and zero QRR coupled with the low inductance of its chip-scale package should result in high efficiency at high frequencies. What the two companies are suggesting is that this increase in efficiency will combine with IDT’s existing technology to increase power density and other operational advantages.

Another important avenue of development work will be focused on devices relating to wireless power, something I discussed recently with Alex Lidow CEO of EPC at the PCIM Show and conference in Nuremberg, Germany.

Industry analysts currently forecast that the increased use of wireless charging technologies by consumers during the next three years could result in a globally installed user base approaching 140 million units. But the widespread adoption of wireless charging technology by consumers has been obstructed by the time it has taken for meaningful industry standards to be created and ratified.

There are three standardisation bodies grappling to take a leading position in the wireless charging market. They are the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) which has established the Qi standard, the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP).

The WPC and PMA standards are based on inductive charging, which means they are defined as tightly coupled systems and are perceived as more efficient than the alternative loosely coupled method which employs resonant charging. But as the name suggests, the receiver and transmitter must be within a few millimetres of each other in tightly coupled charging.

The Alliance for Wireless Power opts for resonance charging, which allows greater flexibility in how units requiring charging have to be positioned against the charging transmitter unit. It permits greater spatial variety and could enable numerous devices to be charged simultaneously.

The GaN technology is expected to increase efficiencies in wireless charging systems and a recent article that Alex Lidow co-authored showed that eGaN transistors enabled significant efficiency improvements over low-powered MOSFETs in soft switching resonant converters such as would be used in wireless power transmission.

A third area of collaboration between the two firms will be in the area of radio frequency products.


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By Paul Whytock

Paul Whytock is European Editor for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over twenty years. Prior to entering journalism he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

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