26 February 2020
Nexperia partners with Ricardo to produce technology demonstrator for GaN-based EV inverter
Nexperia BV of Nijmegen, Netherlands (which manufactures discrete and MOSFET components and analog & logic ICs) has announced a partnership with global transportation technology company Ricardo to produce a technology demonstrator for an electric vehicle (EV) inverter based on gallium nitride (GaN) technology.
Nexperia says that GaN is the preferred switch for these applications as GaN FETs lead to systems with greater efficiencies at lower costs with improved thermal performance and simpler switching topologies. In automotive terms this means that the vehicle has a greater range – the major concern for EV puchasers. GaN is on the brink of replacing silicon carbide (SiC) or silicon-based insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) as the preferred technology for the traction inverters used in plug-in hybrids or full battery electric cars, adds the firm.
Last year Nexperia launched a range of AEC-Q101-approved GaN devices, providing automotive designers with a wider portfolio of proven, reliable devices, providing the power density required for electrification of the powertrain. Ricardo designs and consults on concepts within the automotive industry, including the manufacture of prototypes and demonstrations, and has collaborations with high-profile brands such as McLaren and Bugatti.
“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,” says Michael LeGoff, general manager GaN, Nexperia. “We are developing a real solution that I think a lot of automotive designers will be interested in having a look at,” he adds.
“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,” says 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,” he adds. “There are also many associated benefits when we look at the design from a system level.”