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Power Electronics Tips: Power converters with GaN

EDAboard's sister publication, has several "Tips" sections covering a variety of topics from power to microcontrollers to motor control. We'd like to encourage you to check out some of these helpful tips and share them with your colleagues. To get you started, I'll post the introduction or abstracts of some of the tips every week in this blog.

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Power converters with GaN
by Alex Lidow

It can be tricky to analyze power supply designs incorporating GaN power devices. Here are the basics of calculating losses and device currents when using these exotic semiconductors.

There is a lot of activity in wide-bandgap semiconductors these days. They have the ability to operate at much higher voltages, frequencies and temperatures than conventional semiconductor materials. Power circuits built around wide-bandgap devices can be cheaper and more energy efficient than their silicon counterparts.

One type of wide-bandgap technology for making power transistors uses gallium nitride grown on top of silicon. Enhancement-mode transistors, such as eGaN FETs from EPC, have qualities resembling those of power MOSFETs but with better high-speed switching, lower on-resistance, and a smaller size than their silicon predecessors.

But eGaN transistors aren’t one-for-one replacements for silicon MOSFETs. Nor can eGaN power supply circuits be analyzed in exactly the same way as those created with MOSFETs.

In that regard, we recently ran an informal online contest that asked contestants to solve ten story problems centered on power supply design with eGaN devices. Winners received a copy of the hardcover textbook, GaN Transistors for Efficient Power Conversion, 2nd Edition.

The problems in our challenge proved to be difficult for most people. Only a handful of entrants got a perfect score and earned a copy of the book.

In the interest of promoting power supply education, here are the questions and the solutions that eluded a majority of contest entrants. Engineers engaged in cutting-edge power design would be well served by spending time understanding the concepts behind the answers.

Click this link for the full article on Design World online.


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