Increasing the converter frequency of an automotive inverter from 5 kHz to 50 kHz can reduce the size of the inverter by half while boosting efficiency by 25%. In addition, using GaN devices in hybrid cars can provide an additional 10% increase in fuel efficiency.
Sustainable transportation requires a mobility solution that reduces CO2 emissions and decreases consumption of non-sustainable energies (carbon-based fuels) while maintaining automotive costs, providing autonomy and accommodating ever-increasing technology content such as security and connectivity devices.
A solution can be found in wider use of high-efficiency electrical motors – which operate at more than 80% efficiency compared to 25% for thermal motors – along with improved battery systems and extensive charging networks.
Forecasts call for more than 8 million hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles to be on the roads beyond 2020. To address this fast-growing market, the automotive industry needs ways to make more efficient use of the electrical energy stored in a car by reducing electrical-conversion losses. This can be achieved through greater power integration.
All electrical-conversion losses are magnified in automotive applications because of the high power capacity and high usage. Therefore efficiency, as well as heat dissipation and compactness, is a key driver for automotive applications. GaN on silicon provides all the benefits of wide-band-gap, fast-switching devices at the cost of a standard silicon platform. In addition, GaN devices’ low ohmic and switching losses combined with high-frequency operation lead to lower system cost, weight and size. Finally, because GaN devices operate at higher temperatures than silicon ICs, GaN actually reduces the demand on automotive cooling systems.