What is the Gallium Nitride Semiconductor Device?
Introduction: Gallium Nitride, with the chemical formula GaN, is an inorganic compound consisting of nitrogen and gallium. It stands out as a direct bandgap semiconductor and has gained prominence since 1990, particularly in the field of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). GaN shares a structural resemblance with wurtzite, boasting exceptional hardness. With a wide bandgap of 3.4 electron volts, GaN is the material of choice for high-power and high-speed optoelectronic devices. Notably, it enables the production of violet (405nm) lasers without the need for non-linear semiconductor pumping in diode-pumped solid-state lasers.
Key Features of GaN: GaN, or “氮化镓” in Chinese, represents a groundbreaking semiconductor material renowned for its wide bandgap, high thermal conductivity, high-temperature resilience, radiation resistance, acid-alkali resistance, high strength, and hardness. Early applications of GaN span across new energy vehicles, rail transportation, smart grids, semiconductor lighting, and next-generation mobile communications.
Third-Generation Semiconductors: In comparison to first-generation (silicon-based) semiconductors, third-generation semiconductors exhibit substantial advantages, including a larger bandgap, higher electrical conductivity, and superior thermal conductivity. These materials boast high critical breakdown fields, elevated electron mobility, and excellent frequency characteristics, making them distinct.
Dominance of GaN in the Third Generation: Gallium Nitride stands out as the most representative third-generation semiconductor material. It has become the material of choice for high-temperature, high-frequency, and high-power microwave devices, achieving the highest theoretical electro-optical and photoelectric conversion efficiency among all material systems.
Applications of GaN Devices: GaN devices primarily encompass radio-frequency (RF) devices and power electronic devices, serving markets such as wireless charging, power switches, and inverters.
Power Devices and Their Evolution: Gallium Nitride power devices include Schottky barrier diodes (SBDs), normally-off field-effect transistors (FETs), and cascode FETs. They find applications in wireless charging components, power switches, inverters, and alternating current (AC) systems. As technology advances and cost control measures are implemented, GaN materials are set to replace silicon-based power devices in the medium-to-low-power range, excelling in the voltage range of 300V to 600V. GaN device volumes will significantly decrease due to their low on-resistance, high-temperature operation capability, and rapid switching speeds.
Benefits of GaN Chip Integration: Thanks to GaN’s exceptional properties, GaN chips manufactured by Keep Tops exhibit smaller surface areas compared to traditional silicon-based IGBT/MOSFET chips. This higher chip density results in a significantly increased power density/area ratio compared to silicon-based solutions. Furthermore, the use of GaN chips reduces the requirement for other peripheral components. The reliance on passive components such as capacitors, inductors, and coils is significantly reduced compared to silicon-based solutions, further minimizing device footprint.