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POWER FIELD-EFFECT TRANSISTOR EPC Space targets the radiation hardened power electronics market

| Author / Editor: Luke James / Johanna Erbacher

California’s Efficient Power Conversion Corp (EPC), which manufactures enhancement-mode gallium nitride on silicon (eGaNeTM) power field-effect transistors (FETs) for power management electronics, recently announced its partnership with VPT Inc. of Virginia, USA.

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Efficient Power Conversion Corp and VPT Inc. have partnered to form EPC Space, hat is focused on designing and manufacturing radiation-hardened GaN-on-Si transistors and integrated circuits that are packaged, tested, and qualified for satellite and high-reliability applications.
Efficient Power Conversion Corp and VPT Inc. have partnered to form EPC Space, hat is focused on designing and manufacturing radiation-hardened GaN-on-Si transistors and integrated circuits that are packaged, tested, and qualified for satellite and high-reliability applications.
(Source: EPC Space)

VPT provides DC-DC converters, EMI filters, and custom engineering services for industries like avionics, space, military, and industry. Together, the two companies have formed EPC Space LLC, a partnership that is focused on designing and manufacturing radiation-hardened GaN-on-Si transistors and integrated circuits that are packaged, tested, and qualified for satellite and high-reliability applications. EPC Space will provide high-reliability power conversion solutions for mission-critical applications including power supplies, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and ion thrusters. These solutions will be optimised for the unforgiving environment of space.

According to EPC Space, their GaN-based components offer superior performance advantages over traditional Si-based solutions.

First, GaN transistors do not have insulating gate oxide under the gate electrode. This gate oxide in a Si MOSFET traps positive charges from gamma radiation, eventually causing the Si MOSFT to become a depletion mode MOSFET. According to EPC, this never occurs in their GaN transistor.

Second, EPC’s GaN transistors are allegedly not susceptible to two failure mechanisms when exposed to heavy ions: Single event gate rupture (SEGR) or single event upset (SEU). The former doesn’t happen because EPC’s GaN transistors do not have a gate oxide that can rupture. The latter doesn’t happen because EPC’s GaN devices do not generate a minority carrier cloud that causes a momentary short circuit in Si.

VPT’s global leadership in power conversion solutions for avionics, military and space applications is the perfect complement to EPC’s leadership in GaN-based power conversion devices,” says EPC’s CEO & co-founder Dr Alex Lidow. “The joint venture – EPC Space – is taking the superior performance of gallium nitride to the high-reliability community, offering electrical and radiation performance beyond the capabilities of the aging rad-hard silicon MOSFET,” he added.

VPT Inc’s CEO, Dan Sable, said: ““EPC’s GaN technology enables a new generation of power converters in space operating at higher frequencies, higher efficiencies and greater power densities than ever achievable before.” VPT Inc. is part of the HEICO Electronic Technologies Group, a subsidiary of HEICO Corporation.

None of the parties involved have disclosed the exact nature of the deal or what it involves.

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