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7 March 2016

GaN Systems' transistors used in winning inverter design for $1m Google Little Box Challenge

GaN Systems Inc of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, a fabless developer of gallium nitride (GaN)-based power switching semiconductors for power conversion and control applications, says that its GS66508P gallium nitride power transistors were instrumental in the winning design of the Google 'Little Box Challenge'.

Google and the IEEE Power Electronics Society awarded the $1m prize to 'Red Electrical Devils' (named after Belgium's national soccer team), a team from CE+T Power of Wandre, Belgium, for designing, building and demonstrating an inverter with the highest power density and smallest volume. The competition included more than 2000 registered teams, from which 18 finalists were selected. After 4 months of testing the finalists' designs, the $1m prize winner was announced at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington DC.

Global demand for more power is unsustainable without using fewer manufacturing materials and consuming less energy to operate the burgeoning number of electronic devices, says GaN Systems. Inverters convert direct current (DC) from solar panels or batteries into the alternating current (AC). The Little Box Challenge organizers tasked engineers to "Figure out how to shrink an inverter down to something smaller than a small laptop (a reduction of > 10Ă— in volume)."

The key goal was to reach an inverter power density in excess of 50W/cubic inch in a volume of under 40 cubic inches. The Red Electrical Devils presented their entry at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, USA, and passed exhaustive testing. Their winning inverter design produced a power density of 143W/cubic inch in 14 cubic inches, outperforming the Little Box Challenge power density goal by nearly a factor of 3, which, according to Google, "is 10 times more compact than commercially available inverters."

"The use of GaN technology enabled our team to reach a power density of ~145W/in3 for the 2kVA inverter designed for this project," says Olivier Bomboir, VP of product management & new business at CE+T Power. "The reduced gate drive and switching losses of GaN Systems' GS66508P were critical to our thermal and power density goals. Additionally, we were highly impressed at how reliably the devices performed over the months of rigorous, real-world testing by the NREL team," he adds.

"This achievement is added confirmation that gallium nitride semiconductors are instrumental in helping power design engineers respond to the ever increasing need to develop more efficient power conversion solutions," comments GaN Systems' CEO Jim Witham. "GaN technology clearly paves the way toward more powerful, compact and efficient inverter designs."

See related items:

Google and IEEE launch $1m Little Box Challenge to create smaller power inverter

Tags: GaN Systems E-mode GaN FETs Power electronics inverters

Visit: www.littleboxchallenge.com

Visit: www.cet-power.com

Visit: www.gansystems.com

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