Everything on one chip: GaN Power IC integrates sensors for electromobility

May 08, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Everything on one chip: GaN Power IC integrates sensors for electromobility
A Fraunhofer research team has succeeded in significantly increasing the functionality of GaN Power ICs for voltage transformers: At Fraunhofer IAF, researchers integrated current and temperature sensors together with power transistors, flyback diodes and gate drivers on a GaN-based semiconductor. This development paves the way for more compact and efficient on-board chargers in electric vehicles.

In order to use charging columns with alternating current, wall charging stations or, if necessary, simple AC household receptacles for charging, the users of electric vehicles are dependent on on-board charging devices. This charging electronics is carried in the vehicle and must therefore be as small, light and inexpensive as possible. This requires extremely compact and efficient power electronic systems such as voltage converters.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF (Freiburg, Germany) has been researching monolithic integration in power electronics for years. With their latest research results, they combine current and temperature sensors, 600V power transistors with intrinsic flyback diodes and gate drivers in a GaN Power IC for the first time. As part of the GaNIAL research project, the researchers have demonstrated the functionality of all this functionality in a GaN Power IC and thus achieved a breakthrough in the integration density of power electronic systems.

Compared to conventional voltage converters, the new circuit not only enables higher switching frequencies and thus a higher power density, but at the same time fast and accurate condition monitoring directly in the chip. This is important because the increased switching frequency of GaN-based power electronics enables very compact designs, but also leads to stricter requirements with regard to monitoring and control. "Therefore, sensor technology integrated in the chip is a great advantage," emphasizes Stefan Mönch, researcher in the field of power electronics at Fraunhofer IAF.

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