Datacom DC-DC, LiDAR, and Radiation
Hardened devices for satellites

In past posts, we discussed the disruptive nature of the eGaN FET and the inevitability of it displacing the aging power MOSFET. In the post we discussed Envelope Tracking and Wireless Power Transmission: two amazing new applications enabled by eGaN technology with the potential to touch every consumer of wireless and portable computing and communications appliances. This post discusses three additional applications enabled by eGaN technology: Datacom DC-DC, LiDAR, and Radiation Hardened devices for satellites.

Datacom DC-DC

The hunger for more efficiency continues to be a driving factor in most electronics — especially in applications such as server farms and centralized telecommunications centers. When compared with MOSFETs, eGaN FETs are significantly more efficient. The lower power losses translate into products with higher output, improved power density, and increased efficiency. This translates into lower energy consumption and reduced electric bills for the consumer.

In figure 1 are two representative examples of popular DC-DC converters. In figure 1 (a) is a 48 V to 12 V DC-DC converter, and in figure 1 (b) is a 12 V to 1.2 V DC-DC converter. These two represent the highest volume DC-DC converters used today in Datacom applications today. Efficiency is the key to competitiveness. In these two examples, as well as virtually every other example examined, eGaN FETs reduce power losses by 25% or more.

Figure 1: Power loss comparisons between MOSFET-based DC-DC converters and eGaN FET-based converters. (a) 48 V to 12 V bus converter. (b) 12 V to 1.2 V point-of-load converter. In both cases eGaN FETs reduce losses by more than 25% at rated output power.
In 2017, Datacom power supplies revenues are forecasted to top $11.4B (a)In that same year there will be $2.5B revenues from the MOSFETs that are the core semiconductor component in these power supplies (b). eGaN® FETs have consistently demonstrated a 25% or more improvement in efficiency in these applications (c).
LiDAR (Light Distancing And Ranging) is a new application that will dominate applications such as real-time motion detection for video gaming, computers that respond to hand gestures as opposed to touch screens, and fully autonomous vehicles. eGaN FETs’ ultra-fast switching speed enables the high resolution needed to make these applications a reality.
Radiation hardened eGaN FETs perform 40 times better and withstand 10 times the radiation of silicon Rad Hard devices. The Satellite industry is a $196B market that greatly values the large boost in power conversion efficiency enabled by this new technology.

LiDAR

LiDAR uses pulsed lasers to rapidly create a three dimensional image or map of a surrounding area. One of the earliest adopters of this technology is “driverless” cars. Today’s eGaN FETs’ higher frequencies give LiDAR systems superior resolution, faster response time, and greater accuracy. These characteristics enable new and broader applications such as real-time motion detection for video gaming, computers that respond to hand gestures as opposed to touch screens, and fully autonomous vehicles. In 2018, the LiDAR market is estimated to reach $551M in 2018 with a CAGR of 16.64% 2013 through 2018 (d).

Radiation Hardened

Power converters used in harsh environments, such as in space, high-altitude flight, or high-reliability military applications must be resistant to damage or malfunctions caused by radiation. Most electronic components require specialized design or manufacturing processes to reduce their susceptibility to radiation damage. For this reason, radiation-hardened devices tend to lag behind the most recent technology developments. While silicon-based power MOSFETs are no exception, eGaN FETs, however, perform 40 times better electrically while being able to withstand 10 times the radiation. This opens the door to major cost savings in communications and research satellites. It is anticipated that the $196B global space market in 2023 will drive a greater than $100M radiation hardened transistor market that will be dominated by GaN transistors such as the eGaN FET.

(a) IHS (2013) Power Supplies (Merchant Market) — World — 2013, Englewood, CO, USA: IHS
(b) IHS (2014) Power Semiconductor Discretes & Modules Report — 2013, Englewood, CO, USA: IHS
(c) A.Lidow, J. Strydom, M. deRooij, Y. Ma, GaN Transistors for Efficient Power Conversion, Power Conversion Press, 2012.
(d) MarketsandMarkets (2013) LiDAR Market by Components (INS, Laser, GPS/GNSS, Camera, MEMS), Product Types (Airborne, Mobile, Terrestrial), Applications (Corridor Mapping, Forestry, Mining, Topographic Surveying, Volumetric Mapping) — Global Forecasts and Analysis 2013–2018, Dallas, TX, USA: MarketsandMarkets
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