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GaN Systems to present paper on application of SPICE models for high-power GaN elements in automotive applications

30 January 2014

GaN Systems Inc, a leading developer of gallium nitride power switching semiconductors, will present a technical paper at APEC 2014 (Applied Power Electronics Conference) in March, describing the application of SPICE models developed for very high power GaN devices and integrated GaN drive circuits in automotive applications. SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis) is a computer simulation and modeling program used to predict the behavior of electronics circuits.

At present, drive train power requirements of most hybrid vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) are met by using silicon IGBT devices; however, gallium nitride is expected to take over as the technology of choice for this market in the near future, as GaN power transistors provide greatly enhanced performance in these applications, due to lower on-resistance and minimal switching losses compared to silicon-based semiconductors.

Hybrid and electric vehicles have a substantial power conversion requirement, GaN Systems notes; a typical drivetrain can be switching 100 kW. A typical silicon-based converter will be optimally 95% efficient. The 5% (5kW) loss, as heat, has to be disposed of; current solutions involve water-cooling and separate radiator systems. GaN converters can achieve 98 to 99% efficiency—a threefold reduction in losses—and due to GaN’s higher operating temperatures, can be air-cooled. Of equal importance the silicon efficiency of 95% is only achieved at optimum full load; at low load the efficiency drops to the order of 70%. Due to the smaller drive circuit losses, GaN Systems devices can maintain efficiencies higher than 90% even at low loads.

GaN Systems’ presentation describes the use of advanced thermally augmented SPICE models which were developed to enable large-area GaN devices to be simulated in conjunction with an integrated GaN driver, demonstrating how gallium nitride devices can be used in the very wide temperature ranges and high electrical noise environments found in automotive applications. The presentation will be given by John Roberts, Chief Technical Officer, who co-authored the paper with colleague Hughes Lafontaine.

At the exhibition running alongside the conference, GaN Systems’ is showcasing its range of gallium nitride power switching solutions for power conversion applications featuring the company’s proprietary Island Technology. GaN Systems’ high power devices overcome the limitations of today’s silicon-based semiconductors and bring significantly better performance and efficiency to power conversion applications for alternative energy and power supply applications in addition to electric and hybrid vehicles.

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