IMEC to pursue GaN power technology

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A new industrial affiliation program being launched by Belgian research centre IMEC will focus on the development of GaN technology for power conversion and solid state lighting applications.

According to the centre, an important goal of the program will be to lower the cost of GaN technology by using GaN on Si wafers of up to 200mm in diameter. "GaN on large diameter Si wafers, in combination with cmos compatible processes, offers the best perspective to create economically viable solutions," said Marianne Germain, GaN program director at IMEC. The program is looking to develop high voltage, low loss, high power switching devices based on GaN on Si technology. Potential applications inclGude high power switching in solar converters, motor drives, hybrid electrical vehicles or switch mode power supplies. While silicon based mosfets are reaching their intrinisic material limits in some applications, GaN based devices have excellent transport properties and high electrical field operation. IMEC says there are a few GaN devices available, but these are based on AlGaN/GaN high electron mobility transistor structures and are normally on devices designed for use in rf applications. The affiliation program will be looking to develop normally off devices with breakdown voltages in excess of 600V and low on resistance. Meanwhile, a sub program will be working to exploit the benefits of GaN on Si technology in the development of high efficiency high power white leds. Key issues here are said to include enhancing the external and internal quantum efficiencies and enabling high current operation.