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ZuGaNG project adopts GaN for voltage converters

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GaN? voltage converter? ZuGaNG? power?

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF has been overseeing the development of a different class of voltage converters built around the improved gallium nitride (GaN) technology, which promises fast, energy-efficient systems even in high temperatures.

The ZuGaNG project targets the realisation of a new product generation for power electronics. Under the project, scientists from an association of industry and research partners develop high voltage transistors based on the efficient semiconductor GaN for applications in voltage converters. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) with approximately $5.44 million over the next three years.

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Future possibilities: inductively coupled plasma based on gallium nitride electronics in a quartz glass tube perfused with gas, for material processing. Source: TRUMPF Group

With the improvement of the applied technology, the scientists are aiming for both a significant increase in the energy efficiency of voltage converters and a reduction of production costs for gallium-nitride-based power transistors of up to 50 per cent. Due to their high switching frequency, the transistors reduce losses of voltage converters and work reliably, even in high temperatures. Physical properties of the semiconductor GaN, such as the high electron mobility and critical field strength facilitate the realisation of power transistors with a longer lifetime and higher robustness in comparison to conventionally used silicon devices.

Dr. Patrick Waltereit, project leader at Fraunhofer IAF said that GaN-based transistors exhibit high pulse frequency, which helps to facilitate miniaturisation of the systems. This allows reduction of the volume of components, the cooling efforts, as well as the modules necessary for the cooling, thus leading to an overall decrease of production as well as operating costs.

Together with their industry and research partners, the scientists at Fraunhofer IAF strive for the development of novel concepts for design, material production and process technologies for the production of power electronics components. First demonstrators will soon validate the voltage converters' performance in applications in heating, household and manufacturing technologies, in electro mobility or in the generation of renewable energies. The power transistors could help to save energy in future pump motors of washing machines or heatings, in chargers for electronic vehicles, generators for plasma or laser systems, or in photovoltaic plants.

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