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DIGITAL DAYS GaN - the hot topic of the PCIM 2020

From Luke James

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‘PCIM Europe digital days 2020’, which this year took place for the first time in an online format, premiered in early July, with 74 companies taking part to showcase product innovations. And this year, one technology that featured heavily was gallium nitride (GaN).

GaN is becoming the preferred solution for a broad array of applications
GaN is becoming the preferred solution for a broad array of applications
(Source: GaN Systems)

Gallium nitride (GaN) is a direct bandgap semiconductor with a Wurtzite crystal structure that can be used in the production of semiconductor power devices as well as RF components and light emitting diodes (LEDs). It has demonstrated the capability to be the displacement technology for silicon semiconductors in power conversion, RF, and analogue applications and thus has been referred to as the “silicon of the future” and is attracting the attention of researchers and technology companies worldwide.

Although for several years it was relatively unknown, it is becoming more and more common in today’s power applications, with manufacturers regularly integrating it into their products and making it the focus of their attendance at trade shows.

This year at PCIM Europe, which took place in an online format for the first time in early July due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GaN all but stole the show, with several manufacturers demonstrating their GaN-based products, systems, and solutions, and hosting technical presentations and panel discussions on GaN technology and consumer applications.

GaN Systems’ panel sessions and new products

GaN Systems, the global leader in GaN power semiconductors, held two panel sessions at PCIM, “GaN Devices – The Game-Changers” and “Power GaN: Past-Present-Future,” which illustrated how GaN power semiconductors are quickly becoming the fundamental building block in the power electronics field.

At the former panel session, the CEO of GaN Systems, Jim Witham, compared GaN, SiC, and Silicon transistors and explained just why they are changing “the whole freaking game” by looking at how they have delivered significant cost savings and transformed key products, systems, and applications for companies including Huawei, Samsung, Apple, and Siemens. Prior to PCIM, Witham said, “We look forward to participating in the discussions and highlight how GaN is establishing itself as a preferred solution.”

GaN Systems hosted two additional technical presentations, one of which looked at the effect of dynamic on-state resistance to system losses in GaN-based hard-switching half-bridge applications. The company also presented its new solutions and design tools, including a 100V integrated DrGaN device and 650V integrated Half-Bridge DrGaN power stage and a 100V DrGaN module that features the highest power density and efficiency for board and brick power delivery.

EPC’s presentations and virtual exhibit

GaN Systems was not the only major player delivering technical presentations and panel discussions: EPC also held plenty of these focusing on GaN technology in customer applications. In addition, the company also participated in PCIM’s virtual exhibit to showcase its latest eGaN FETs and ICs in its customers’ end products.

EPC’s announcements included a low voltage BLDC motor drive inverter using a monolithic eGaN IC power stage which addresses the needs of applications with special requirements such as precision control, lightweight, and small profile. The company also presented a GaN FET-based ultra-thin DC-DC step-down converter for an ultra-thin 48 V to 20 V power solution to meet the increasing demand for addressing the challenge of thinner solutions while simultaneously getting more power out of this limited space.

Although PCIM’s digital event was a success, Petra Haarburger, Managing Director of Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, the organiser of the event, admits that “the personal encounter remains important and cannot be replaced digitally,” but adds that digital formats will “continue to be a useful addition in the future.”


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