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GANEXT Cambridge GaN Devices leads €10.3m European-funded project

| Author / Editor: Luke James / Johanna Erbacher

Cambridge GaN Devices Ltd is leading a €10.3m European project with 13 European partners with a view to delivering the most energy efficient gallium nitride power modules for low- and high-power applications seen yet.

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Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) leads the GaNext project, which involves a consortium of 13 partners from both academia and industry. The aim is to design and develop highly efficient, compact prototypes of next generation GaN power modules for low and high power applications.
Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) leads the GaNext project, which involves a consortium of 13 partners from both academia and industry. The aim is to design and develop highly efficient, compact prototypes of next generation GaN power modules for low and high power applications.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pixabay )

Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) is leading the European-funded project under the PENTA Programme, targeting the design and development of highly efficient, compct prototypes of next generation gallium nitride (GaN) power modules for low- and high-power applications.

Running from February 2020 to the end of December 2022, the GaNext project involves a consortium of 13 partners based in the UK, Germany, and The Netherlands from both academic and industry. Together, these 13 partners bring a myriad of expertise in GaN technology, high-frequency drivers, smart controllers, magnetics, and end-user dedicated applications in the power electronics field.

Partners include advICo microelectronics, Lyra Electronics, Besi Netherlands, MACCON Elektroniksysteme, Neways Technologies, CSA Catapult, SUMIDA Components & Modules, Eindhoven University of Technology, Signify, Fraunhofer IMS, Technische Universität Dortmund and Infineon Technologies.

In 2016, CGD was formed out of the High Voltage Microelectronics and Sensors Group in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge to develop GaN-on-Si substrate power semiconductors. It is the sole supplier of the GaN power devices at the heart of the power modules and is supported by the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Capital Group, Martlet, and other private angel investors.

Since its founding, CGD has built a team of professionals with combined experience of “over 100 years” in the semiconductor industry and “over 50 years” in GaN design, technology, operations, and business development. According to Giorgia Lobgobardi, a Cambridge research fellow, the firm’s engineering, management, and executive team has “unique experience in the start-up eco-system in Cambridge and Silicon Valley and in commercialising power devices and power ICs in high volume.”

CGD claims that it can offer GaN transistors that operate at significantly higher switching frequency with lower losses and lower on-resistance in contrast to state-of-the-art silicon (Si) devices. The company is developing a range of GaN transistors that will be customised for different applications, enabling it to push the boundaries in terms of power density and efficiency, it is claimed.

Giorgia Longobardi, CGD's founder and CEO, said: “The Penta project creates a tremendous opportunity for CGD to engage with leading-edge companies in the area of power electronics. Not only will the project advance the knowledge in GaN technology and provide insights into its complex facets but will aim at delivering fully working prototypes in lighting, motor drives, converter blocks for renewable energies and on-board chargers for automotive with record specifications and outstanding performance.”

The CGD team
The CGD team
(Source: Cambridge GaN Devices)

Several companies are now offering GaN transistors, with some using GaN-on-Si to benefit from larger wafers at a lower cost. While most efforts to date have focused on improving GaN transistor reliability, current GaN devices are still largely difficult to use which is holding back broader market adoption. CGD claims it will eliminate this hindrance by developing GaN devices that can be driven in a similar way to Si transistors while being simple to use.

Florin Udrea, professor in semiconductor engineering, CTO and founder said: “The quality of the Penta consortium is remarkable, and I have no doubt that we will deliver on the promises to make GaN technology a great success in the market. There is also a broader impact in adding our contribution to our ultimate quest for better use of energy resources and a cleaner environment.”

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