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Home » Applications & Technologies » Wide Bandgap Technologies
Applications & Technologies
Wide Bandgap Overview

Emerging wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors hold the potential to revolutionize the electronics world, promising to advance the global industry in much the same way as the invention of the silicon (Si) chip over 50 years ago enabled the modern computer era. The electronic bandgap is what allows semiconductor devices to switch currents on and off to achieve a desired electrical function, and WBG materials, the category of electronic materials in which the bandgap energy exceeds approximately 2 electronvolts (eV), exhibit characteristics and processes that make them superior to Si for many applications. The most mature and developed WBG materials to date are silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), which possess bandgaps of 3.3 eV and 3.4 eV respectively, whereas Si has a bandgap of 1.1eV. SiC and GaN devices are starting to become more commercially available. Smaller, faster, and more efficient than counterpart Si-based components, these WBG devices also offer greater expected reliability in tougher operating conditions.

Enabling High Power, High Temperature Electronics

Advantages of WBG semiconductors over Si in power electronics include lower losses for higher efficiency, higher switching frequencies for more compact designs, higher operating temperature (far beyond 150° C, the approximate maximum of Si), robustness in harsh environments, and high breakdown voltages. Diverse applications range from industrial functions, such as motor drives and power supplies, to automotive and transportation systems including hybrid and electric vehicles, aircraft, ships, and traction, to wireless communications, military systems, space programs, and clean energy generation from solar inverters and wind turbines.

Wide Bandgap Power Devices

The power electronics industry is ushering in a new era marked by the emerging availability of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors. With power device innovations in conventional silicon (Si) nearly reaching their theoretical limits and the new WBG materials offering important advantages over Si, the power electronics industry is heralding opportunities previously not thought possible, as well as anticipating significant improvement in existing applications.

Silicon Carbide (SiC) Power Devices are Here

The advantages of SiC over Si for power devices include lower losses for higher efficiency, higher switching frequencies for more compact designs, robustness in harsh environments, and high breakdown voltages. SiC also exhibits significantly higher thermal conductivity than Si, with temperature having little influence on its switching and thermal characteristics. This allows operation of SiC devices in temperatures far beyond 150° C, the maximum operating temperature of Si, as well as a reduction in thermal management requirements for lower cost and smaller form factors.

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Wide Bandgap RF Devices
Wide Bandgap
TriQuint Semiconductor TGS2351-SM DC – 6 GHz High Power SPDT Switch

Silicon-based RF power transistors are reaching limits of power density, breakdown voltage, and operating frequency, thus opening up the opportunity for adoption of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors such as gallium nitride (GaN) in RF signal processing applications. GaN offers key advantages over silicon. The high power density of GaN leads to smaller devices as well as smaller designs due to reduced input and output capacitance requirements, an increase in operational bandwidth, and easier impedance matching. GaN’s high breakdown field allows higher voltage operation and also eases impedance matching. The broadband capability of GaN devices provides coverage for a broad frequency range to support both the application’s center frequency as well as the signal modulation bandwidth. Additional advantages of GaN include lower losses for higher efficiency, and high-temperature operation (in the case of GaN on bulk-GaN substrate).

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Wide Bandgap LEDs
Cree High Power LED
Cree High Power LED

Though light emitting diodes (LEDs) have been available since the 1960’s, high-brightness blue LED products only arrived relatively recently - in the early 1990’s, arising from critical developments with gallium nitride (GaN), a wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor material. The color of an LED is determined by the energy bandgap of the semiconductor, and current blue LEDs are based on GaN and InGaN (indium gallium nitride). When blue LEDs are mixed with red and green LEDs or coated in yellow phosphor, the more popular method, the result is high-intensity white light. The availability of LED-based illumination revolutionized the solid-state (semiconductor based) lighting industry by providing a much higher efficiency and longer lifetime alternative to filament-based incandescent lighting, and a mercury-free alternative to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Energy-saving WBG-based LEDs produce more than 10 times more light per watt, and last 30 times longer than comparable incandescent bulbs. LED makers today offer products with lighting efficiency greater than 150 lumens per watt, with lifetimes of around 40,000 hours. Compare this to the 20 lumens per watt lighting output, and 1000-2000 hours rating of incandescent bulbs and it is easy to envision how LED lighting will gain widespread adoption despite a higher initial purchase cost. Indeed, LED lighting sales is projected to grow massively over the next few years, overtaking sales of incandescent bulbs by year 2018.

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Learn more about Panasonic 600V GaN Power Transistors
Panasonic 600V GaN
Power Transistors

  • Current collapse-free 600V and more
  • Low on-resistance of 65mΩ
  • Highly efficient switching at high frequencies
Learn more about Panasonic 600V GaN Power Transistors
Learn more about MACOM GaN HEMT Power Transistors
MACOM GaN HEMT
Power Transistors

  • Common source configuration
  • Broadband Class AB operation
  • Thermally enhanced Cu/Mo/Cu package
Learn more about MACOM GaN HEMT Power Transistors
Learn more about STPSC Schottky Silicon-Carbide Diodes Wireless Coil/Shields
STPSC Schottky
Silicon-Carbide Diodes

  • Schottky diode structure with a 600V rating
  • Switching behavior independent of temperature
  • Suitable in PFC boost diode function
Learn more about STPSC Schottky Silicon-Carbide Diodes Wireless Coil/Shields
Learn more about Cree 1200V SiC Half-bridge Modules
Cree 1200V SiC
Half-bridge Modules

  • Ultra low loss
  • High-frequency operation
  • Zero reverse recovery current from diode
Learn more about Cree 1200V SiC Half-bridge Modules
Learn more about TriQuint T1Gxx GaN Power Transistors
TriQuint T1Gxx
GaN Power Transistors

  • DC to 6 GHz frequency range
  • 28V operating voltage
  • Output power of 55W at 3.5GHz or 18W at 6GHz
Learn more about TriQuint T1Gxx GaN Power Transistors
Learn more about Infineon 5th Gen. SiC Schottky Barrier Diodes
Infineon 5th Gen. SiC
Schottky Barrier Diodes

  • Highly stable switching performance
  • Reduced risks of thermal runaway
  • Improved efficiency over all load conditions
Learn more about Infineon 5th Gen. SiC Schottky Barrier Diodes
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