An In-depth Look at GaN Technology

Article By : Steve Taranovich

There are only a handful of GaN books out there that will truly benefit readers in both the design engineering and executive management communities.

There are only a handful of GaN books out there that will truly benefit readers in both the design engineering and executive management communities. The new “AspenCore Guide to Gallium Nitride: A New Era for Power Electronics ” is a standout, starting with a foreword by Alex Lidow, whom I consider to be the top evangelist for GaN in the industry. Lidow is the esteemed former co-inventor of the HEXFET power MOSFET, former CEO of International Rectifier, and current CEO and co-founder of Efficient Power Conversion. Any book that earns his praise is worth the read and worthy of a spot on my bookshelf.

Market overview

The guide’s journey into the world of GaN begins with a market overview by Nitin Dahad, editor-in-chief of Embedded, who reveals how GaN’s technological aspects open the door to market opportunities and adoption. Dahad looks at the trends, applications, and evolving potential for GaN power ICs. Design engineers need to understand these dynamics before they design their power supplies, and managers can leverage the information to ensure they successfully position GaN devices as high-value additions to their companies’ power design portfolios.

The market overview section next moves into one of the most important design application segments in the power industry: fast charging. Ahmed Ben Slimane of Yole Développement explores how fast-charging requirements are fueling GaN adoption in electric vehicles, smartphones, laptops, data centers, and other high-growth markets. The section closes with a look at GaN’s role in smart-industry applications. Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio, editor-in-chief of Power Electronics News and EEWeb, describes how GaN is improving efficiency in industrial motors as well as data centers, saving power as well as precious computing rack space. In short, GaN helps generate green power.

Technology analysis

With contributions from a slate of industry experts, this section gets to the heart of why GaN is critical to the future of power technology design. What makes GaN the obvious choice over silicon for many power devices, and when is GaN a more appropriate wide-bandgap choice than silicon carbide? You’ll find the answers here. The section also reviews the state of the art for GaN technology in 2021 and beyond.

Other topics covered in this section include the enhanced electrical and thermal aspects of GaN; GaN transistor modes; GaN-enabled breakthroughs for fast charging and power conversion; the technology’s role in increased motor control efficiency (again, think smart-industry applications); and GaN’s benefits in electric and autonomous vehicles, data centers, and energy storage systems.

As an audiophile, I appreciated the inclusion of a piece on GaN’s emergence in Class D audio amplifier designs. I was also glad to find coverage of GaN in space applications because the topic is close to my heart. I was a kid in the 1960s, the golden age of NASA’s Apollo program. I wish they’d had GaN back then, but there will surely be systems powered by inherently rad-hard GaN in the craft designed for the Artemis program, which intends to return humans to the moon. Developers are also designing GaN into LiDAR systems for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and autonomous vehicles, and they are pushing the limits of GaN in RF technology. The book turns a spotlight on those efforts.

Of course, along with opportunities, the shift from silicon to GaN presents challenges, including implications for test and measurement. This is not unusual in our industry — consider what happened when we went from germanium to silicon! The guide takes an unblinking look at the need to renew some lab equipment and tools for GaN design and test. It also presents a roadmap for the “second revolution in power,” leading to the all-important integration of multiple units on a die as well as the integration of drivers and other functionality. And it delves into challenges for GaN HEMT devices and the figure of merit leading to the holy grail of the ideal switch.

AspenCore News Coverage

In this section, AspenCore mines its archives for the best of its GaN-related news and analysis. Article topics include the future of grid converters, electric-vehicle inverters, high-efficiency power devices, progress toward the nirvana of 100% efficiency, vertical GaN devices, and higher-power GaN (even in digital power architectures).


This whitepaper collection is an excellent source of information for designers and those in design management. Topics include tomorrow’s post-silicon power converters, matching gate drivers to eGaN devices, and millimeter-wave GaN for 5G MMIC RF power amplifier designs (previous approaches have been inefficient, especially in base stations, so the switch to GaN will make a significant contribution). Other papers discuss the quality, reliability, and robustness of GaN in the general industry; GaN’s place in AECQ101 qualification, where the technology’s efficiency and robustness play a role; and GaN dynamic characterization and challenges.

My final take

Reflecting on the power designs that I have created in my design and applications career, as well as the various seminars (including the famous Unitrode seminar series) in which I have participated as a presenter, I remember my “go to” sources for information: mentors, EDN magazine articles, university texts, IEEE Xplore publications, and a small but valuable collection of treasured books. I’ve added the “AspenCore Guide to Gallium Nitride: A New Era for Power Electronics” to my collection as another trusted source of technical information for my work today as an independent technical writer and published author. I recommend the book to designers, management, hobbyists, and anyone else who wants to know more about the amazing GaN technology revolution.

The “AspenCore Guide to Gallium Nitride” is now available for purchase at

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Steve Taranovich is the editor in chief of EE Time’s sister site, Planet Analog and also serves as senior technical editor at EDN. Steve has 40 years of experience in the electronics industry. He received his MSEE from Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York, and his BEEE from New York University, Bronx, New York. He is also chairman of the Educational Activities Committee for IEEE Long Island.  His expertise is in analog with a diverse embedded processing education as it relates to analog design from his years at Burr-Brown and Texas Instruments. Steve was a circuit design engineer for his first 16 years in electronics. He then served as one of the first field application engineers with Burr-Brown Corp and also became one of their first global account managers, traveling to Europe, India and China.

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