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A GaN power switch driver was recently integrated into a demonstrator system for a high-temperature application. This research will create new possibilities for the automotive, aeronautics, and mining exploration (drilling) industries.
GaN on silicon, which is more affordable than SiC, is currently the front runner in the race for new power electronics solutions. Most power electronics must be able to withstand high temperatures, and a power-converter demonstrator capable of withstanding severe environments has been recently developed. CEA Tech institute Leti developed a chip (driver) to control the speed of a GaN power switch for the demonstrator. "What makes this research original is that it combines several technologies in a single demonstrator," said a Leti researcher. "For each system part, we chose the most appropriate material in relation to its requirements. The driver is SOI, which can withstand high temperatures; the switch is GaN, which offers high performance at high voltages."
This novel hybrid solution illustrates GaN's potential for use in embedded power converters for severe environments like electromechanical switches located near internal combustion engines for the automotive and aeronautics industries, for example, or for mining exploration (oil and gas), an industry that requires electronics that can withstand temperatures of 200 °C.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.