Multiple Advantages over Silicon Propelling Gallium Nitride Industry


In the past few years, gallium nitride (GaN) has seen a rising level of popularity in the field of electronics and the market for GaN industrial devices has seen significant growth in the past few years. Owing to the unique material and electronic properties of GaN and the high dielectric strength, current density, operating temperature, speed switching, and low on-resistance offered by GaN devices, GaN is projected to replace the dominant silicon in power electronics as silicon devices reach their limit in undertaking severe performance tasks. Permitting much higher energy efficiency than silicon, GaN is projected to enable the implementation of the highly sought-after energy-efficient products of the future.

As power semiconductor devices and circuits, which form the critical part of almost all electronic products and energy distribution infrastructure, approach severe performance and cost limitations, a great deal of attention is being given to materials such as GaN.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) dedicated nearly half of the more than US$140 mn research funding in the field of power electronics to research into the utilization of GaN, citing the material’s potential in reducing the global consumption of energy. The field of GaN applications is ripe with growth opportunities and many companies are coming ahead with innovative GaN devices that promise to cut down the use of energy in consumer products, electric cars, data centers, and many other powered devices by nearly 10-20%.

Why the Shift from Silicon?
Silicon has been the dominant material in the field of power management for the past six decades. As silicon enabled new applications that were not possible with other semiconductors such as selenium or germanium, proved to be more reliable, was easier to use, and reduced the overall cost of the end product, it was preferred over earlier semiconductors. The basic physical properties of silicon, along with the rapid advancements in manufacturing infrastructure, technology, and engineering, made silicon the most preferred material in the power and electronics industry.


Silicon technology has formed the core of almost all earlier low-power electromechanical and thermionic devices. But times are rapidly changing in the field of technology and electronics; high-power circuits are rapidly replacing low-power circuits in commonly used consumer electronics products such as power adapters of laptops. Though silicon is still the dominant element in these power circuits, there are certain fundamental material limitations of silicon that lead to wastage of energy in the form of heat when silicon transistors are used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power.

GaN Market Poised to Expand at 15.10% CAGR between 2014 and 2021
According to a recent market research report published by Transparency Market Research, the global market for GaN industrial devices is expected to significantly benefit from the rising set of applications of GaN-based devices across several industries. The market is expected to expand at a 15.10% CAGR between 2014 and 2021 and rise from a valuation of US$0.4 bn in 2014 to US$1.3 bn by 2021. The high demand for enhanced product performance on battlefields from the defense industry, large-scale production of GaN-based devices, and high demand for energy-efficient semiconductor equipment in the electronics industry will majorly drive the market.

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