Gallium Nitride Vs. Silicon: What You Need To Know

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Gallium Nitride Vs. Silicon What you need to know
Photo Courtesy: Chemistry World

Anker has been a leader for years in manufacturing cheap and reliable USB-C cables and plug-in adapters, but the company may have just changed the game with the release of the band new PowerPort Atom PD 1 power brick. The world‘s first pocket-friendly plug-in adapter with the capacity to charge at full speed USB-C phones, tablets, laptops and more. To the eyes, it looks like the Apple’s 5W plug-in adapter, but this Anker’s adapter can handle up to 27W in power output.

According to Anker, the big difference of this new generation of wall chargers is the use of Gallium Nitride (GaN) components over silicon. This material allowed for increased efficiency at a significantly smaller size.

Gallium Nitride Vs. Silicon What you need to know
Photo Courtesy: Chemistry World

Gallium Nitride Vs. Silicon

The “Band Gap,” also called “Energy Gap,” is a property of materials which determines how well it can conduct electricity. Gallium Nitride has a wider band gap than Silicon, which means it can conduct electrons at a higher speed, and also allows higher voltages.

Thus, GaN electronics are far more efficient than those made of Silicon, lose less energy and can handle higher temperatures. “You can make things very small, or you can pack more GaN in the same area,” says Danqing Wang, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University who conducts GaN research.

According to Martin Kuball, a physicist at the University of Bristol who leads a project on GaN in power electronics, if we replace every electronic device in the world for electronics made of GaN, we could potentially cut worldwide power use by 10 or 25 percent.

The Big Question

It is pretty much all about the money. Gallium nitride (GaN) is unlikely to replace silicon as the backbone of electronics because of the silicon’s low cost of production and relative abundance.

Still, in certain applications, silicon’s band gap is low. Silicon’s band gap is around 1.1 eV, whereas the GaN band gap is around 3.4 eV (depending on temperature). Therefore, for several high power electronic components, GaN is the clear winner due to its high efficiency.

To conclude, GaN made devices have been around since early 2000, but the GaN industry is still an infant. While there is no doubt that they will replace silicon transistors in higher power applications within the next decade, GaN is still far from being widely implemented.

Sources: TheVerge, Quora, Ieee.org, Epc-co.com, ScienceDirect, Nexgenpowersystems

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