21 March 2022
Cambridge GaN Devices debuts first commercial products
Marking its debut appearance at the (Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) (20-24 March), fabless semiconductor company Cambridge GaN Devices Ltd (CGD) has emerged from stealth mode to launch its first portfolio of products, which are capable of reducing power losses by up to 50%. CGD has launched the ICeGaN 650V H1 series comprising four 650V products that utilise GaN-based technology.
Spun out of the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering’s Electrical Power and Energy Conversion group in 2016 by Dr Giorgia Longobardi and professor Florin Udrea, CGD has spent the past six years in R&D to design, develop and commercialize power semiconductors products that use gallium nitride (GaN)-on-silicon substrates.
The firm has accumulated a portfolio of 39 patents and applications, 20 of which are said to be distinctive inventions, focused on faster, smaller and more economical devices designed to drive widespread adoption of GaN technology in consumer electronics and beyond. The 650V H1 product series represents CGD’s commercial launch and is claimed to be an industry first, enabling the use of standard MOSFET drivers and no external components needed for protection. Engineers will be able to use CGD’s GaN-based technology in applications currently run with silicon-based devices or with other GaN solutions.
CGD says that its patented ICeGaN (Integrated Circuit Enhancement Mode GaN) technology merges the ease-of-use benefits seen in cascode configurations with the simplicity of a single-die eMode (normallyOFF) high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs), as well as a number of integrated smart sense and protection features. All of this is embedded in a single die that is reckoned to deliver up to 50% power loss reduction compared with legacy silicon die. The technology is fully scalable on power and voltage for future developments, says CGD.
ICeGaN is an integrated solution based on GaN with an intelligent and self-protecting mechanism that enhances the functionality, versatility and reliability of the transistor. This GaN technology can be applied to any system that requires power and operates in the 650V market segment, says the firm. Initial applications include consumer electronic products such as mobile chargers, adapters for laptops, gaming and AIOs computers and, in general, SMPS (switched-mode power supplies) for consumer applications. The 650V H1 Series portfolio is also a first step into segments such as lighting and server power. Further expansion is planned towards high-power servers and telecom markets for data centers, photovoltaics (PV) inverters and renewable energy production, targeting electric vehicle/hybrid electric vehicle (EV/HEV) systems in the future.
CGD’s long-term product strategy is also supported by several multi-partner UK- and EU-funded projects, the latest being ICeData, an initiative aiming to develop and commercialize highly efficient GaN-based ICs for use in data-center server power supplies. This specific project is funded by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) within the Energy Entrepreneur Fund, which has selected leading UK technologies providing solutions for energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.
“Our GaN-based technology makes a difficult engineering challenge easy while operating at a high level of efficiency,” says CGD’s CEO & founder Dr Giorgia Longobardi. “This is due to the team’s expertise in GaN and our profound knowledge of the material, the device physics, as well as our deep understanding of market requirements. Sustainability is a core tenet of our business and we are always researching innovative solutions with the aim of continuously lowering power losses in the electronic power industry to benefit a wide community of customers and end users,” she adds.
“I have been working on power semiconductor devices for over three decades. My research at Cambridge University and with various companies has been focused on diverse materials such as silicon, gallium nitride, silicon carbide and diamonds and a variety of devices from HEMTs to IGBTs and from Superjunctions to FinFETs,” notes founder & chief technology officer professor Florin Udrea. “There have been many wrong prognostics regarding the development of wide-bandgap products. But this time it is different: the time for GaN is now. The uptake in the market will be exponential for at least the next decade,” he forecasts.
“The ICeGaN 650V H1 series is focused on making life easier for all those who have been trying to design-in GaN transistors and have dedicated significant R&D effort to figure out how to drive them,” says Andrea Bricconi, VP of business development. “These four products can be seamlessly interfaced with gate drivers which make ICeGaN-based GaN HEMTs easy to use, like a silicon MOSFET,” he adds. “No additional components are needed to drive ICeGaN, no clamping diodes for protection, no negative voltages are needed to TurnOFF the power transistor, and still the highest performance levels are guaranteed by GaN intrinsic properties. The wide range of RdsON, from 55mΩ to 200mΩ, is offered in two of the most popular SMD packages, DFN5x6 and DFN8x8, which makes the portfolio perfectly suited for most low- and mid-power SMPS applications, while specific IC and packages solutions for high-power markets are in preparation.”
In booth #1733 at APEC 2022, CGD’s founders and technical team are introducing ICeGaN technology and a selection of evaluation boards.