14 December 2010

NEULAND project aims to halve energy loss for renewables, telecoms and lighting

Six partners from the semiconductor and solar industries (Aixtron, Azzurro Semiconductors, MicroGaN, Infineon Technologies, SiCrystal, SMA Solar Technology) are partnering in the research project ‘NEULAND’, funded by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), to explore new avenues for the efficient use of electricity from renewable sources.

Headed by Infineon, NEULAND will run until mid-2013. The project will receive funding at 52.6% up to about €4.7m from the BMBF under the Federal Government’s High-Tech Strategy (‘Information and Communications Technology 2020’, ICT 2020 program) as part of the call for proposals on ‘Power Electronics for Energy Efficiency Enhancement’.

Focusing on innovative power devices with high energy efficiency and cost effectiveness based on wide-bandgap compound semiconductors, NEULAND aims to reduce the losses in feeding electricity into the grid (e.g. in photovoltaic inverters) by as much as 50% – without significantly increasing system cost — by using devices based on silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si).

The new devices are also to be used in future in switched-mode power supplies for desktop and laptop PCs, for flat-screen TVs, servers and telecom systems, with a view to likewise halving energy loss in these applications.

On the market for about ten years now, SiC Schottky diodes enable significantly reduced losses in current and voltage conversion in switched-mode power supplies. They are used primarily in switched-mode power supplies for PCs or TVs, in solar inverters and motor drives. At present, GaN material is used mainly in white light-emitting diodes. Studies into the suitability of the material for power applications began in 2006. NEULAND aims to reveal the applications for which GaN devices live up to or outperform existing SiC devices in terms of reliability, ease of use, and cost. This will pave the way for introducing the energy-efficiency benefits of reduced losses throughout the consumer electronics spectrum, the project partners believe.

The project consortium brings together expertise in SiC and GaN across a wide area of the value chain. Aixtron is represented as a provider of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, and SiCrystal and Azzurro as wafer manufacturers. Device know-how is being supplied by MicroGaN and Infineon, and experience in systems engineering for photovoltaic applications comes from SMA Solar Technology.

Tags: GaN SiC Infineon Aixtron Azzurro MicroGaN SiCrystal

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