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9 April 2014

Gallium nitride device and substrate market to rise to $15.6bn by 2022

According to the report ‘Gallium Nitride (GaN) Semiconductor Devices (Discrete & IC) and Substrate Wafer Market by Technology, Application, Product, Device, & by Geography - Forecast & Analysis to 2013–2022’ from MarketsandMarkets, the market is forecasted to reach $15.6bn by 2022.

In particular, the specific sub-sector where GaN has an edge over established silicon-based counterparts is ‘Power Semiconductors & Electronics’. In terms of end-user applications, the two major upcoming sectors driving demand for GaN devices are the Industrial & Power sector and Communication Infrastructure sector. The Communication Infrastructure sector has found use for GaN power discretes, particularly transistors in power amplification, rectification, and high-frequency switching.

GaN has turned out to be the technology of choice for most power semiconductor applications and is quickly replacing the existing silicon technology, reckons the report. Compared with pure silicon devices, the various properties of GaN such as a wider bandgap energy, high breakdown voltage, larger critical electric field, and higher thermal conductivity allow GaN devices to operate at higher voltages and high switching frequencies, and to handle higher power density, offering enhanced power efficiency.

These properties allow GaN discretes such as Schottky diodes, FETs, HEMTs and the other advanced transistors to operate efficiently at much higher voltage levels, exceeding the limits of their counterpart silicon devices.

GaN power semiconductors also help to reduce conduction and switching losses, offering higher efficiency in electronic systems. Currently, the major application segments of GaN power semiconductors are inverters (& converters), RF devices, power supply modules, and motor drives, used across all end-user sectors.

The GaN power semiconductor device market is growing primarily due to penetration into the medium-voltage power electronics market and applications across all major end-user verticals. It is obvious that most revenue comes from the rising number of advanced power applications in the industrial, power, solar and wind sector and the sector's developing globally. GaN power devices draw most of their revenue from the Communication Infrastructure sector, focusing solely on replacing their silicon counterparts in various RF power devices, particularly in RF communication applications over the past few years.

Regarding their features, GaN devices are smaller and lighter but tougher and more efficient than silicon devices, and can serve as replacements for their silicon counterparts, which have hit maturity.

GaN devices and wafers also feature low sensitivity to ionizing radiation, and better stability in some radiation environments. They also have a future in solar cell arrays, satellites and high-end power appliances in the Military, Defense & Aerospace sector.

These devices also have huge revenue potential in the automotive and transportation sector, mainly in electric vehicles & hybrid electric vehicles (EV/HEV).

Since GaN power semiconductors have the potential to operate at higher temperatures, higher power levels and voltages, and high frequencies (microwave ranges), the number of applications is increasing continuously in various industries, including telecommunications, consumer electronics, automotive, industrial, power and clean-tech applications.

Currently, GaN accounts for less than 1% of the total power semiconductor market (which currently amounts to $34bn, including power discrete and power ICs). However, over the next ten years, the entire base for power semiconductors & electronics players is expected to penetrate into this new value chain, rapidly increasing the percentage share.

In particular, the GaN market's total competitive landscape had only a handful of players at the beginning of the last decade but quickly emerged into a significant network of key players for both power and optoelectronic semiconductor devices. Companies cited in the report include Aixtron SE, Azzurro Semiconductors AG, Cree Inc, Epigan NV, Fujitsu Ltd, International Quantum Epitaxy (IQE) plc, Koninklijke Philips N.V., Mitsubishi Chemical Corp, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, RF Micro Devices Inc, Texas Instruments Inc, Toshiba Corp.

Today's world includes many suitable power applications for GaN in several segments, such as power distribution systems, industrial systems, heavy electrical systems, turbines, heavy machinery, advanced industrial control systems, electro-mechanical computing systems etc, as well as several new power applications (clean-tech) including high-voltage direct current (HVDC), smart grid power systems, wind turbines, wind power systems, solar power systems, and electric & hybrid electric vehicles. Another application sector is ICT, with several communication application segments such as RF, radar, and satellite communications offering huge revenue potential due to the unbeatable ability of GaN to operate at high-frequency ranges (including microwave frequencies). The potential size of these markets is currently in the trillions, it is reckoned, making the total addressable market for GaN power semiconductors worth billions.

See related items:

GaN device market to grow at 24.6% to $2.2bn in 2019

Tags: GaN power semiconductor market

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