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EPC board showcases ultra-fast transition capability of GaN FETs for LiDAR

Efficient Power Conversion Corporation (EPC) announced the availability of the EPC9126, a 100 V high current pulsed laser diode driver evaluation board. The ultra fast transition gallium-nitride-on-silicon (eGaN) FETs used on the EPC9126 can drive laser diodes with high current pulses and total pulse widths as low as 5 ns, thus enhancing the quality of information a LiDAR system will detect, including the accuracy, precision, and processing speed.

In a LiDAR system, used for detecting objects in autonomous vehicle applications, speed and accuracy of detection is critical. As demonstrated by this board, the rapid transition capability of eGaN FETs provide power pulses to drive the laser up to ten times faster than an equivalent MOSFET, thus enhancing the overall performance of a LiDAR system.

The EPC9126 development board is primarily intended to drive laser diodes and features an EPC2016C ground-referenced eGaN FET driven by a Texas Instruments UCC27611 gate driver. The EPC2016C is a 100 V maximum voltage device capable of current pulses up to 75 A with total pulse widths as low as 5 ns. The board can accommodate an EPC2001C 100 V eGaN FET with a pulse current rating of up to 150 A for users needing higher current capability.

The board includes multiple ultra-low inductance connection options for mounting laser diodes and can drive these via a discharging a capacitor (as shipped) or directly from a power bus. The board does not include a laser diode, which must be supplied by the user to evaluate specific applications.

The printed circuit board is designed to minimize the power loop inductance while maintaining mounting flexibility for the laser diode. It includes multiple on-board passive probes for voltages and discharge capacitor current measurement, and comes equipped with SMA connections for input and sensing designed for 50 Ω measurement systems. In addition, the user can enable an optional precision narrow pulse generator.

Finally, the board can also be used for other applications requiring a ground-referenced eGaN FET, for example in Class E or similar circuits.

The EPC9126 100 V high current pulsed laser diode driver evaluation board is priced at $181.25 and is available from Digi-Key.

EPC was the first to introduce enhancement-mode gallium-nitride-on-silicon (eGaN) FETs as power MOSFET replacements in applications such as DC-DC converters, wireless power transfer, envelope tracking, RF transmission, power inverters, remote sensing technology (LiDAR), and class-D audio amplifiers with device performance many times greater than the best silicon power MOSFETs.

A GaN transistor is a wide bandgap device with superior conductivity compared to traditional silicon transistors resulting in smaller devices and lower capacitance for the same RDS(on). Enhancement-mode (normally-off) operation allows power designers to take advantage of the performance benefits of gallium nitride in a switching application.


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