What is Gan used for?
Since the average household is equipped with at least five connected electronic devices, people have high expectations for charging functions and performance. Although silicon has always had challenges in providing fast charging through small devices, the unique positioning of gallium nitride (GaN) technology is to provide solutions to the challenges.
Disadvantages of silicon semiconductor solutions
Silicon has been the backbone of the technology industry for decades and has become the material of choice for transistors. The conductivity of silicon is better than that of its precursor materials, and the production cost is not high. However, as we continue to see the advancements in the technology we use and expect to obtain faster and more efficient power than ever before-silicon may be coming to an end in terms of providing products.
Indeed, although today's silicon-based products provide viable charging solutions, they are still insufficient. The problem lies in the characteristics of the silicon material itself: in terms of heat and electricity transfer, the components may not be able to become smaller, which means that the charging power is already proportional to the size. Conversely, the fact that consumers' demand for device power supply means the production cost of the charger and the inconvenience when carrying the charger proves many problems.
Although silicon manufacturers work tirelessly to improve silicon-based circuits, their need to integrate more and more transistors has challenged them. The result is that Moore's Law (which implies that the number of transistors doubles every two years) is being challenged, and manufacturers are reaching their limits.
Why is gallium nitride better than silicon?
For many years, the use of GaN to manage UHF power solutions has been the goal of the technology industry. As far as the charger is concerned, GaN generates less heat, which means that components can be closer together and devices can be smaller. Moreover, all of these are possible while retaining the necessary power supply functions and safety standards. In fact, the use of gallium nitride chargers has many advantages over the use of silicon counterparts. The next section will introduce some of the advantages.
GaN transports current more efficiently than silicon
GaN has a higher conductivity efficiency and has a 2.4 eV band gap compared to the 1.12 eV band gap of silicon. This means that the former can withstand higher voltages and higher temperatures. And because of the reduced band gap, GaN has higher power conversion efficiency: it conducts electrons 1,000 times more efficiently than silicon. As a result, energy can be better flowed to the charging equipment and the charging time can be shortened.
GaN requires fewer components than silicon
Likewise, GaN chargers conduct electricity at a higher voltage than silicon chargers. This means that current can flow faster and lose less heat, resulting in more energy that can enter the device being charged. In addition, when the components are more efficient when transferring energy to the device, fewer components are required, which means that the charger can be made smaller.
GaN may eventually be more cost-effective than silicon
Although the current price of GaN semiconductors is higher than that of silicon, as they become more widespread, this situation should change. Because of their increased efficiency, additional materials such as heat sinks, filters and circuit components are rarely needed. Power transistor manufacturer GaN Systems estimates that the cost savings in this area may be as high as 20%. Once mass production is in place, this may increase further.
There are Already New GaN Products in the Market
Although not long ago, GaN transistors were hindered by cost and reliability proofs, but now they are becoming more and more common. New generations have appeared, and they integrate more and more functions, such as those related to analog, logic and power.
Some of the most interesting products include the HyperJuice charger from Apple and mobile accessory manufacturer Hyper shown in the picture above; and SINREGeek 65W GaN charger . HyperJuice is a 100-watt USB-C GaN charger (about the size of a card) that can charge all compatible devices at the fastest speed. The SINREGeek GaN is a 65-watt charger with fast charging function, which can provide a wide range of chargers and cables for various devices (unlike traditional chargers, it has a flat design similar to a solid-state drive, making it both fiber Thin and easy to carry).
Of course, these are just some examples of the current first-generation GaN-based chargers. So far, only some manufacturers' GaN chargers are designed with GaN-based circuits. Nevertheless, the long-term goal of many companies is to use high-performance GaN design for all charger circuit components. Over time, the result will be a smaller, more powerful and more energy-efficient charger.
Can GaN meet our charging expectations?
In a world where all our devices are designed to be smaller and smaller, it is surprising that it took so long to replace the huge power block of an existing charger (such as the example above). Given that early GaN models have been released to prove the advantages of the technology, it seems that GaN technology will definitely change this clumsy hardware.
With GaN, we don’t have to carry bulky chargers with us, we don’t have to wait hours to charge our devices, and we don’t have to worry about overheating.
In other words, we may not see a large number of GaN chargers until the larger hardware manufacturers (such as Apple and Samsung) start to incorporate GaN chargers into their devices. However, even at the time of writing, they can provide power conversion, fast switching and high efficiency to achieve small size and high output. This is likely to be the beginning of a high-speed revolution in power electronics technology.