Going ga-ga for GaN
The first example of exploiting the energy saving characteristics of GaN technology is Brightworks Technology’s PD3.0-compliant fast mobile chargers for consumer and industrial applications.
This article originally appeared in the Feb'23 magazine issue of Electronic Specifier Design – see ES's Magazine Archives for more featured publications.
The pocket-sized chargers use GaN semiconductors for fast charging, a smaller form factor, together with cooler and more power efficient operation than other commodity chargers currently available, says Brightworks. They are designed for fast USB charging Apple and Samsung smartphones, cameras, tablets and laptops. A 20W version has one port, the 30 and 65W models have two ports and the 100W charger has four ports.
Using an intelligent communication protocol, the chargers automatically select the appropriate DC output voltage (5.0, 9.0, 12, 15 or 20V) for the device to be charged, quickly and safely, distinguishing from a mobile phone and a laptop.
Universal AC input ranges from 100 to 240V AC (90V to 264V AC), for a precise regulated single output voltage according to the demand of the PD3.0 device.
Brightworks estimates that the use of GaN results in approximately 35% energy savings. “GaN transistors have lower on-resistance and faster switching speeds which in turn allow for smaller sized parts,” said a spokesperson. “They also have high breakdown tolerances and best of all, WOMEN IN TECH POWER: DESIGN The Oneworld 65 uses GaN to bring the world together The iXCharger combines storage and charging components DESIGN 19 ELECTRONICSPECIFIER.COM enhanced thermal conductivity when it comes to designing in small spaces.”
The iXCharger combines storage and charging components
The chargers meet the US Department of Energy’s Level 6 requirements and EU CoC requirements. They can be mass-produced in custom colours and with branding. Interchangeable blades are available for use in territories outside of the US. Brightworks will be exhibiting the chargers at APEC (19 to 23 March, booth 108).
GaN also plays a part in the OneWorld 65 multi-tasking adapter by travel technology company, Oneadptr. The adapter can power and fast charge up to six devices at the same time. Its slide options of two-pin, two pole and three pole plugs (USA/Australia, EU and UK plugs) enable it to be used in more than 200 countries around the world.
The compact design includes one 65W USB PD charging port with Quick Charge (or QC – Qualcomm’s proprietary battery charging protocol). There are also two USB C Smart charging ports and two USB A Smart charging powers, together with a 10A AC universal power outlet. As a result, the OneWorld 65 can charge up to six devices simultaneously.
Basing the adapter on GaN components means it is lightweight (less than 180g) and compact.
Typical output is 5V 3A, 9V 3A, 12V 1.5A and 20V 3A with 100 to 240V input. Smart USB output is 5V 3A and the AC output is 100 to 240V at 7A. The 7A universal AC outlet has overcurrent, overtemperature and auto reset fuse safety features.
Third gen GaN and partners
A collaboration between Vinpower, Phihong Technology and Silanna Semiconductor has resulted in the 1Tbyte iXcharger portable 65W GaN charging cube with backup storage. It acts as an extended memory or back up photos and videos for iPhones or iPads, Android, Macbook, Windows laptops, Chrome books and other mobile devices.
Silanna Semiconductor’s patented, internal memory storage architecture and integrated ACF (active clamp flyback) controller, the SZ1131 is combined with VinPower memory management, system integrations and software, building on its iXflash and iXflash Cube mobile flash storage products. The chargers are manufactured by Phihong.
The ACF controller integrates an adaptive digital PWM controller, active clamp FET and gate driver with a start up regulator for simple flyback control and efficiencies up to 95% across 90 to 265V AC. The SZ1131 and third generation semiconductor GaN technology has created a small package, high power density and fast heat dissipation for efficient charging.
For Silanna, the project fulfils the company’s focus of simplifying design while improving performance but which will also benefit the environment through more efficient energy use, comments CEO, Mark Drucker.
The iXcharger was announced at CES 2023 earlier this year, although volume production dates have not been confirmed.
Brightworks uses GaN transistors to deliver lower on-resistance, faster switching and smaller form factors