Nexperia has teamed up with Ricardo on a technology demonstrator of an inverter using gallium nitride (GaN) technology
GaN is the preferred switch for these applications as GaN FETs have higher frequency aoperation that gives higher efficiencies with improved thermal performance and simpler switching topologies. In automotive terms this means that an electric vehicle can get a greater range from a given battery pack.
Nexperia announced a range of AEC-Q101-approved GaN devices in November last year aimed at the electrification of the powertrain and is testing out the devices with Ricardo, which supplies automotive companies such as Mclaren and Bugati.
“By designing our GaN devices into an inverter and trialling them through Ricardo, we will be able to better understand how a vehicle can be driven safely and reliably. We are developing a real solution that I think a lot of automotive designers will be interested in having a look at and will find extremely advantageous,” said Michael LeGoff, general manager GaN at Nexperia and former chief executive of UK GaN chip maker Plessey.
“Semiconductor technology is key to the efficiency of the inverter system and the role that it plays in the performance and efficiency of an electrified vehicle,” said Adrian Greaney, director – technology & products, Ricardo. “By delivering significant benefits in terms of the switching speed and efficiency, gallium nitride is a real enabling technology. As well as leading to increased range, it allows us to reduce the package size and weight of the inverter, which provides greater powertrain design flexibility as well as contributing to vehicle mass reduction. There are also many associated benefits that when we look at the design from a system level, and Ricardo is therefore pleased to be collaborating with Nexperia on GaN devices.”
Nexperia says GaN is now on the brink of replacing silicon carbide (SiC) or silicon based IGBTs as preferred technology for the traction inverters used in plug-in hybrids or full battery electric cars, although it does not produce SiC devices
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