An interview powered by Yole Développement – GaN Power could replace Silicon MOSFETs in key market applications, including power supplies. This new technology market remains promising with growth expectations of a 55% CAGR for the next 5 years in the base scenario (as reported in “Power GaN 2018: Epitaxy, Devices, Applications and Technology Trends” from Yole Développement (Yole)).
As of today, many different products are available in the market, including discrete and both monolithic and multi-chip integrated solutions. However, one of the existing barriers from the customer’s point of view seems to be the integration of the GaN HEMT in existing circuitry. It is recognized by many GaN players that education is needed to ensure adoption of the technology. It is required to teach the system designer about the new topologies that will enable GaN to perform better than Silicon. Moreover, it is essential for GaN manufacturers and system designers to work closely together, to fully understand the system requirements. In the same way, we can find more and more GaN integrated solutions for increased system performance. This is the case with Texas Instruments’ products, which include an adapted gate driver solution in the same package as the GaN FET. Indeed, TI benefits directly from their unique know-how of gate driver products as worldwide leader in Power Management solutions.
Today Ana Villamor, Ezgi Dogmus, both, PhD. Technology & Market Analysts and Hong Lin, PhD. Senior Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement (Yole) had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Stephanie Watts Butler, Technology Innovation Architect in High Voltage Power at Texas Instruments. All experts discuss TI’s technology status and the company’s roadmap for the coming years.
Moreover, as Dr. Butler is the Chair of JEDEC’s JC-70 Wide Bandgap Committee, Yole’s analysts were able to get a bit more insight into the committee’s activities.
Yole: Please introduce yourself to our readers. What are your responsibilities at Texas Instruments?
Dr. Stephanie Watts Butler (SWB): I’m the technology innovation architect in high voltage and isolation at TI. My role is to identify and drive the development of new technology resulting in differentiated products from concept to market. My responsibilities include creating partnerships between our product teams and our technology and manufacturing groups, academic community, research labs, external organizations and vendors. GaN, being a disruptive technology with the potential for highly differentiated products, is a major focus.
Yole: Could you please briefly introduce Texas Instruments’ activities in GaN? Why did TI initially decide to develop GaN? What was your motivation?
SWB: As the leader in Power ICs, TI is focused on delivering products that provide system engineers the ability to design for maximum performance. GaN is an innovative technology that is enabling power electronics with double the power density and better performance. TI believes the power stage approach, the integration of a GaN FET with a driver, is the easiest and most optimal way for users to obtain the high speed, slew rate and switching frequency that is possible with GaN. This power stage approach, coupled with GaN produced in a silicon-compatible factory, naturally leverages TI’s strengths.
Yole: Which products do TI have available in the market? What is your market focus?
SWB: TI is focusing on making GaN easier to use and maximizing efficiency by addressing the problem at a system level and providing solutions that drive the entire ecosystem. TI GaN power stage modules can leverage the broadest power management portfolio including digital power controllers and performance MCUs to optimize performance. For applications where discrete GaN FETs are preferred, TI has the largest portfolio of GaN-specific Gate Driver ICs.
Several 600V GaN power stages are available on TI.com; LMG3410R050, LMG3410R070 and LMG3411R070, which include integrated driver and protection features for survivability under extreme conditions. The 80V 10A half-bridge LMG5200 power stage is also available from TI.com.
Yole: From the integration point of view, how would TI define itself? Is there any collaboration involving TI to drive GaN penetration that you could comment on?
SWB: TI has close relationships with system designers to understand their needs and provide support beyond the IC itself. This level of support and collaboration will help drive GaN adoption. Extensive collateral, from application notes to training videos, are available on TI.com which help engineers more easily design their systems.
In addition, TI has been an active member of JEDEC for decades and leveraged that experience to help launch JEDEC’s newest main committee, JC-70 Wide Bandgap Power Electronic Conversion Semiconductors. Today, over fifty companies participate on JC-70.
Another collaboration area is TI’s broad engagement with the academic community, technical societies and various conferences. Through these engagements, TI remains cognizant of the latest developments and helps drive future directions.
Yole: What are the key challenges that you face today when introducing GaN products to your clients?
SWB: Our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity: system designers expect strong support and system domain knowledge, not just a supplier who can provide an IC. TI is known for delivering such in our existing product portfolio, and we see the same demands from engineers around GaN. Of course, with GaN, topologies and operation are different than with silicon, which is why new system performance and density is achievable. Consequently, we have to be ready to address these differences with system designers.
Yole: GaN IC turns out to be a future solution. How do you compare a monolithic approach to Si+GaN integrated solutions?
SWB: The engineer doesn’t care if it is monolithic or multi-chip. They care about the performance and reliability and support – and that will be TI’s focus regardless of which approach.
Yole: The GaN power market is very small today and Yole forecasts two different scenarios depending on the penetration of fast charging adaptors and wireless power products. In your opinion, what is the market opportunity for GaN devices?
SWB: The market opportunity is very broad. The reasons for the use may vary – from achieving power density through system changes enabled by GaN to new system applications only achievable by GaN. Consequently, today, picking a single market which will be the largest driver is not possible, and a combination of markets in totality may drive the volume ramp.
Yole: As JEDEC JC-70 chair, could you comment on the activities within the committee?
SWB: JC-70 formed in October 2017 with twenty-three members. JC-70 has grown to over fifty members and achieved a major milestone in a little over a year since its formation. JEDEC just announced the first publication from this committee: JEP173: Dynamic On-Resistance Test Method Guidelines for GaN HEMT Based Power Conversion Devices. JEP173 demonstrates how quickly the GaN industry came together to address this important topic and begin to establish standards across suppliers for datasheet, qualification, and test methods. JEDEC’s JEP173 is available for free download from the JEDEC website.
Yole: What will be the next steps for GaN activity within TI?
SWB: TI will continue to equip designers with GaN-based solutions. Because the entire ecosystem must be considered, TI’s development is focused on many fronts from power levels, feature sets, controllers and other system products, such as isolation.
Dr. Stephanie Watts Butler is the Technology Innovation Architect in High Voltage Power at Texas Instruments, driving new high voltage and isolation technology innovations from concept to revenue by leading partnerships with TI’s technology organizations, manufacturing sites, universities, and product development teams. She has produced innovations in the areas of control, process and package development, R&D management, and new product development. Dr. Butler has authored more than 40 papers and 17 U.S. patents. She is the Chair of JEDEC’s JC-70 Wide Bandgap Committee, Co-founder of GaNSPEC, and a Fellow of the AVS. SWE honored Dr. Butler with their 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award and Business Insider named Dr. Butler to their most powerful female engineers list of 2017. Dr. Butler also serves on the UT Austin Department of Chemical Engineering Advisory Council.
Ana Villamor, PhD serves as a Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics & Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole). She is involved in many custom studies and reports focused on emerging power electronics technologies at Yole Développement, including device technology and reliability analysis (MOSFET, IGBT, HEMT, etc). In addition, Ana is leading the quarterly power management market updates released in 2017.
Previously Ana was involved in a high-added value collaboration related to SJ Power MOSFETs, within the CNM research center for the leading power electronic company ON Semiconductor. During this partnership and after two years as Silicon Development Engineer, she acquired a relevant technical expertise and a deep knowledge of the power electronic industry.
Ana is author and co-author of several papers as well as a patent. She holds an Electronics Engineering degree completed by a Master in micro and nano electronics, both from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SP).
As a Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors, Ezgi Dogmus, PhD is member of the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole). She is daily contributing to the development of these activities with a dedicated collection of market & technology reports as well as custom consulting projects.
Prior Yole, Ezgi was deeply involved in the development of GaN-based solutions at IEMN (Lille, France). Ezgi also participated in numerous international conferences and has authored or co-authored more than 12 papers.
Upon graduating from University of Augsburg (Germany) and Grenoble Institute of Technology (France), Ezgi received her PhD in Microelectronics at IEMN (France).
Hong Lin, PhD works at Yole Développement (Yole), as a Senior Technology and Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division since 2013. She is specialized in compound semiconductors and provides technical and economic analysis. Before joining Yole Développement, she worked as R&D engineer at Newstep Technologies. She was in charge of the development of cold cathodes by PECVD for visible and UV lamp applications based on nanotechnologies. She holds a Ph.D in Physics and Chemistry of materials.
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