Gallium nitride (or GaN) is a hard semiconductor material having a wide energy gap of 3.4 eV with high thermal conductivity and heat capacity. It is gradually phasing out Silicon in the domain of power conversion due to its faster switching speeds, smaller size and higher efficiency. It is finding significant application in the power devices used in electrical energy control systems and conversions including industrial, automotive and high RF antennas and radars.
There is a high energy efficiency loss in power devices because of conduction losses due to high switching transitions and device resistances. GaN prevents such energy losses and thus ensures high operational efficiency (as they are characterized by low conduction resistance and high breakdown voltage, which in turn allows high-speed switching operations). Moreover, the low conduction resistance allows it to sustain high energy applications in compact sizes, leading to miniaturization of the circuits. These significant advantages over the larger sized silicon transistors are greatly helping GaN power devices to find more application in the industry. The technology is changing lives in ways more than one with applications in industries like Wireless Power, Consumer Electronics, Medical Science, ICT, Data Center Servers, Defense, Aerospace, and Autonomous Vehicle /Augmented Reality among others.
5G technology is most likely to be commercialized within a couple of years now, mainly in the developed economies of US, UK, Germany, South Korea and Japan, given the pace of development in the field. Given this estimate, the spending on 5G infrastructure is likely to start within 2019. The telecommunication sector, thus, is going to get a huge boost in the next couple of years and experts believe that GaN is going to be the game changer in this process. Another reason why researchers believe that the growth of the GaN power device market will be substantial in the coming years is the ever-changing dynamics & growth of the automotive sector. With the demand for electric vehicles gaining momentum due to their established environment benefits, the market for GaN power device market is getting a push. This is because of the ability of GaN power device to provide increased power density, thus bridging the gap with the traditional industry. The consumer electronics industry is also believed to flourish in the coming years which is again going to augment the growth of the GaN power device market. GaN also helps in providing solid battery support and is used extensively in the smartphone industry, thus increasing the market size in developing economies as well. Moreover, the demand for GaN power device in commercial RF applications and wireless charging are also on the increase, thus again reinforcing the belief of researchers of GaN’s promising future in coming years.
Some of the key players in the GaN power device market are NXP Semiconductors, Efficient Power Conversion Corporation, Texas Instruments, GaN Systems and Infineon Technologies.
Author: Pratik Patra
Pratik is a Writer, Artist, and Technocrat from India. He is an engineer from IIT Bombay and is currently pursuing his MBA from XIMB.