VisIC and ZF partner on R&D effort to develop EV inverter based on GaN semiconductor technology; focus on 400V
ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Israel-based VisIC Technologies Ltd., a developer of gallium nitride (GaN) devices for automotive high-voltage applications, are partnering to develop an EV inverter based on GaN semiconductor technology.
The partnership will see the two companies deepen their development efforts, based on VisIC D3GaN (Direct Drive Depletion-mode GaN) semiconductor technology. D3GaN technology has been shown to reduce the power losses by at least 50% while benefiting from the high-yield, low-cost proprietary design of GaN transistors.
VisIC’s packaging technology was developed to ensure high thermal conductivity to best utilize the semiconductor capabilities. This optimization is important for the inverter design and manufacturing in order to minimize the required paralleling and to optimize the inverter cost.
The inverter—which converts DC power from the traction battery to AC power that drives the motor—is a key part of the electric drive chain. This conversion comes from a complex sequence of switching events which reconstruct an AC signal from the DC output of the battery. The power losses of the power transistors have a direct effect on the efficiency of conversion—the lower the switching losses, the more efficient is the inverter.
In comparative studies, the efficiency of D3GaN in an inverter topology showed that losses of D3GaN were just 15% of those of Si technology and 50% of those of SiC technology giving it a substantial advantage in efficiency. There is an added advantage that D3GaN delivers high power at high frequency resulting in further efficiency increases if paired adequately with the appropriate electric motor. All of these factors mean that use of D3GaN can increase the electric driving range.
The focus of the joint efforts will be on 400-Volt driveline applications, covering the largest segment of the electric vehicle market.
Our partnership with ZF for the development of gallium nitride-based power inverters in electric vehicles illustrates the break-through of gallium nitride technology in the automotive industry. VisIC’s D3GaN technology was developed for the high reliability standards of the automotive industry and offers the lowest losses per RDS(on). It also simplifies the system solution and enables high-efficiency and affordable power train solutions. It is definitely the next step for the automotive electrical driveline.—Tamara Baksht, CEO of VisIC
Gallium nitride semiconductors are key to further improve efficiency and performance of electrified vehicles, from hybrid up to full electric applications. This technology offers significantly better switching speed, range improvements as well as smaller and lighter package size, thereby reducing total system cost.
VisIC Technologies works with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) as a foundry source for the proprietary D3GaN process.