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PowerUp Expo 2021 and gallium nitride (GaN) crystal ball

Where do gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors actually stand in the power electronics world? What are the applications that GaN devices are currently powering, and which ones are in the pipeline? What are the major stumbling blocks for greater adoption of GaN components and modules?

Answers to these questions can be found during the PowerUp Expo to be held on 7-9 December 2021. The event is focused heavily on the up-and-coming wide bandgap (WBG) materials like GaN and silicon carbide (SiC).

On the opening day, for instance, Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) chief Alex Lidow will give a lecture on the fundamentals of GaN at 14:40 Paris time (8:40 EST). Lidow is a power electronics industry luminary and former CEO of International Rectifier, the company Infineon acquired in 2015. Basic thermal and electrical advantages of GaN power devices compared to silicon will be the key highlight of his tutorial. He will also talk about GaN’s application in lidar, DC-DC converters, motor drives, and satellite communications.

Figure 1 These are some of the applications where GaN power devices have the potential to replace silicon. Source: EPC

On the second day’s proceedings, titled “Wide Bandgap Semiconductors,” five sessions are solely focused on the GaN technology, while in four sessions, GaN shares the limelight with its WBG cousin SiC. For instance, a technical presentation from STMicroelectronics application director Gianni Vitale will delve into the GaN power stage for a high-frequency converter.

Opening remarks—about the recent progress in vertical GaN power devices—will be delivered at 14:20 Paris time (8:20 EST) by Robert Kaplar, manager of the Semiconductor Material and Device Sciences Department at Sandia National Laboratories. At 17:40 Paris time (10:40 EST), Innoscience’s general manager Denis Marcon will provide a detailed treatment for GaN’s next moves in manufacturing and application arenas.

Figure 2 A session is dedicated to the mass manufacture of 8-inch GaN semiconductor devices. Source: Innoscience

Then there is a panel discussion moderated by Power Electronics News editor-in-chief Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio, which will focus on SiC and GaN benefits in applications ranging from universal wireless charging to power converters. The keynote given by Toni Versluijs, general manager of MOS & GaN Business at Nexperia, will provide insight into GaN applications, technology, and packaging.

Other sessions cover the features such as paralleling GaN FETs and switch-mode power supplies (SMPS) in telecom and datacenter environments. Moreover, attendees can have live Q&As with industry experts and watch the presentations on-demand.

Figure 3 A presentation will explain how paralleling GaN FETs increases the density of power designs. Source: Nexperia

A lot is going on in the GaN space, and events like PowerUp Expo can provide a reality check on this major shift in power electronics. Given the event’s timing, it could also provide a crystal ball for GaN’s standing in 2022 and beyond.

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