Automotive manufacturers will soon be able to forget about worrying about the shortage of silicon chips and get excited about new replacement technologies. While the rest of the world is still trying to find out what gallium nutride (GaN), is.
GaN technology could be a catalyst for electric car sales in the mid-decade. It will improve range, charge experience and make the concept more affordable to the average driver.
Navitas Semiconductor is one of many, including Power Integrations and GaN Systems.
Navitas stated in an investor presentation that the next-generation GaN power semiconductor platform is 3x smaller and 3x lighter than its predecessor, and can charge up to 40% faster and use less energy.
What is GaN, you ask? GaN is often produced by the conversion of bauxite to aluminum or zinc ore. It has low extraction and refinement emissions.
Each year over 300 tonnes of gallium is produced, and there are more than a million tons in world reserves. Navitas stated that it’s a byproduct of the processing industry and costs around $300/kg, which is around 200 times less than gold (around $60,000/kg).
Frost & Sullivan consultants claim that GaN, due to its high efficiency and high voltage capabilities, is the enabling technology for high resolution color screens on TVs, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and monitors.
GaN has become the preferred technology in the automotive sector for battery charging and power conversion. GaN-based products are also more common in investors working with solar power plants and power conversion schemes for motor drives and other industrial applications, Frost & Sullivan reported.
GaN technology has higher charging efficiency, which means that more power can be delivered to the battery. This allows it to charge faster and not burn up energy, heating the charger. Frost & Sullivan stated that faster switching allows the charger to deliver more power and a smaller battery size.
This reduces not only the size of semiconductors but also the bulk of main transformers, bulk capacitators, and filter parts.
Stephen Oliver is the head of Navitas’ marketing department. He said that the present shortage of silicon chips in the automotive industry was happening because the number of electronic components in cars are increasing every year. However, silicon chips are more vulnerable than ever to supply fluctuations and they have reached their limits in terms of technical capability.
GaN is the next generation of silicon and the new kid on this block. It works 100x faster than silicon and doesn’t waste energy. The second revolution in mobile phones is now underway. It charges smartphones 3x faster and will soon be available for electric cars. Oliver explained that the chip’s manufacturing process is five times smaller, which means that every wafer you produce is five times smaller. This means that you will get five times the number of chips.” Oliver stated in an interview.
Oliver stated that because of the drastic differences in weight and size, components have to be changed completely. This takes approximately 6 or 7 months, depending on whether it is a charger for a smartphone.
Although it won’t immediately help the automobile industry, we will see the benefits in 2 to 3 years. The electric car will become the largest market by 2025 or 2026. This is not an immediate fix, but it will increase the opportunities. Electric cars can charge faster, and the size of the charging station inside the vehicle can be up to 3-4 times smaller. Our team is working closely with manufacturers like Tesla.
Sujith Unnikrishnan, a Frost & Sullivan analyst, said that the future use of GaN technology would be a major factor in electric vehicle adoption.
We need semiconductors with wider bandgap when choosing materials for power systems or other components of EV (electrical vehicle). GaN, which has a larger bandgap than Si (Silicon), is promising for high-power applications and may be three times smaller than Si (Silicon). Manufacturers will be able to bypass the obstacles to widespread adoption of EVs by using GaN power systems for EVs. They can charge faster and have a longer range. In this way, manufacturers will have the ability to develop faster and more reliable charging systems with GaN. This is a major breakthrough in the future, Sujith Unnikrishnan stated in an email.
Unnikrishnan stated that large component manufacturers are investing in research to develop GaN-based products. Miniaturization will be the future trend in chip development, according to Unnikrishnan. Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride are the best stepping stones for this.
GaN-based semiconductors are crucial in EV batteries chargers, DC/Dc conversions, traction Inverters and wireless charging. “The rapid development of powertrain components and Lidar systems as well as micro LEDs to display, sound systems and millimeter communication systems for automotive could become a worldwide trend,” Unnikrishnan stated.
GaN systems are capable of reducing the size and weight of power electronics by one third. Inverters can achieve efficiency gains of over 70% compared with today’s inverters.
Experts say that GaN is not the only option, and there may be alternatives like aluminum oxide or gallium oxide. These could potentially compete in turbocharged chips markets.
Oliver, Navitas sounds confident about GaN.
Our chips will use 5x less energy, 5x less carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide), and 5x less electricity than current technology. The (GaN), which can quickly charge electric cars, will increase the likelihood that people buy them if they are lighter and more affordable. Oliver stated that GaN’s use will increase the acceptance of electric cars and will bring a great benefit to the entire world.Publited at Thu 22 July 2021, 11:52.58 +0000