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Nexperia promotes GaN in automotive design

4th May 2021
Caroline Hayes


At this year’s PCIM Digital Days, Nexperia highlighted its work in the automotive sector and GaN technology.

Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with United Automotive Electronic Systems (UAES) covering GaN power semiconductors developed for electric vehicles’ (EVs’) power systems.

The program will focus on power systems for EVs, with the aim to jointly develop automotive applications using GaN technology. The company has recently extended its AEC-Q101 qualification to GaN FET development.

UAES has started using Nexperia GaN FETs in R&D and collaborative projects including vehicle-mounted chargers and high voltage DC/DC converters for EVs.

The company explained that its GaN technology results in figures of merit (RDS(on) x QGD) and reverse recovery charge (Qrr) metrics to support high switching frequencies and efficient power conversion.

The partnership with UAES covers automotive powertrain and body control systems. It will cover the development and production of gasoline engine management systems, transmission control systems, vehicle body electronics, and hybrid and electric drive control systems.

Paul Zhang, senior vice president sales & marketing and general manager, Nexperia, China said: “The power density and efficiency of silicon-based GaN field-effect transistors will play key roles in the electrification of cars,” adding that UAES has a broad offering and customer base. Nexperia has also announced an increase in global production and R&D investment to support new product development. “We intend to expand our investments and jointly to create a laboratory to develop automotive GaN technology applications,” he said.

Nexperia produces GaN in its own global production facilities, to manufacture products according to automotive AEC-Q101 standards.

Nexperia pointed out that the benefits of GaN (power density and energy efficient) also apply to telecommunications, the IoT infrastructure, automation and data centres, and promoted its GaN on silicon (GaN-on-Si) FETs during the event.

The company describes GaN on Si as a “process game changer”. Citing performance benefits compared to silicon, the company says GaN is mechanically stable, has a wide bandgap with high heat capacity and comparable thermal conductivity. Growing thick GaN epitaxial layers on large diameter silicon substrate has been a recent breakthrough which reduces the cost per wafer and allows processing in existing 200mm fabs. The more competitive pricing is expected to drive adoption in automotive electrification, high voltage comms and industrial infrastructure where GaN FETS enable smaller, faster, cooler lighter systems while lowering overall system cost, the company added. In particular for the automotive industry, the improved density and efficient power conversion of GaN-on-Si will be beneficial in on board chargers (EV charging) DC/DC converters and motor drive traction inverters (xEV traction inverters).

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