Everything on one chip: GaN Power IC integrates sensors for electromobility: Page 2 of 2

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.

The integrated current sensor now enables the non-reactive measurement of the transistor current for control and short-circuit protection and saves space compared to conventional external current sensors. The integrated temperature sensor enables direct measurement of the temperature of the power transistor and thus maps this thermally critical point much more accurately and quickly than previous external sensors, since the distance and resulting temperature difference between sensor and measuring point is eliminated by the monolithic integration.


Voltage converter from Fraunhofer IAF. The rectangular 
piece in the middle is the GaN chip with additional
integrated functional units. (C) Fraunhofer IAF

 

"The monolithically integrated GaN power electronics with sensor technology and control thus saves chip space, reduces the effort required for assembly technology and increases reliability. This is crucial for applications in which many small and efficient systems have to be installed in a small space, such as electromobility," says Mönch, who designed the 4 x 3 mm² GaN chip.

For the monolithic integration, the research team uses the semiconductor material gallium nitride, which has been deposited on a silicon substrate (GaN-on-Si). The special feature of GaN-on-Si power electronics lies in the lateral nature of the material: The current flows parallel to the chip surface, whereby all connections are located on the top of the chip and connected via conductor paths. This lateral structure of the GaN components allows the monolithic integration of several components such as transistors, drivers, diodes and sensors on a single chip. A special property of gallium nitride is advantageous over other wide-bandgap semiconductors such as silicon carbide: GaN can be deposited on inexpensive and large-area silicon substrates and is therefore suitable for industrial use.

Related articles:

Driving GaN technology into automotive designs

Leti to drive GaN electric drivetrain integration

UnitedSiC: Practical considerations when comparing SiC and GaN in power applications

 

 


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