18 June 2020
CGD leading €10.3m European-funded GaNext project
Cambridge GaN Devices Ltd (CGD) is leading the €10.3m European project Next Generation GaN Power Module (GaNext) under the PENTA program (funded through the EUREKA network of countries), targeting the design and development of highly efficient, highly compact prototypes of next-generation gallium nitride power modules for low- and high-power applications.
Running from February 2020 to end-December 2022, the GaNext project is being undertaken by a consortium of 13 partners based in Germany, The Netherlands and the UK from industry and academia (with complementary expertise in GaN technology, high-frequency drivers, magnetics, smart controllers and end-user dedicated applications in the diverse field of power electronics), namely: advICo microelectronics GmbH, Besi Netherlands B.V., Cambridge GaN Devices Ltd, CSA Catapult, Eindhoven University of Technology, Fraunhofer IMS, Infineon Technologies AG, Lyra Electronics Ltd, MACCON Elektroniksysteme GmbH, Neways Technologies B.V., SUMIDA Components & Modules GmbH, Signify B.V., and Technische Universität Dortmund. CGD is the sole supplier of the GaN power devices at the heart of the power modules.
Supported by the University of Cambridge tech transfer office, Parkwalk advisors, Cambridge Capital Group, Martlet and other angel private investors, CGD was spun off from the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering’s Electrical Power and Energy Conversion group in 2016 by CEO Dr Giorgia Longobardi (research fellow in Electronic Engineering at Gonville & Caius College) and chief technology officer Florin Udrea (professor in semiconductor engineering and head of the High Voltage Microelectronics and Sensors group) in order to develop power semiconductors using GaN-on-silicon substrates.
CGD has since assembled a team of professionals with combined experience of over 100 years in the semiconductor industry and over 50 years in GaN design, technology, operations and business development. The firm’s engineering, management and executive team has “unique experience in the start-up eco-system in Cambridge and Silicon Valley and in commercialiing power devices and power ICs in high volume,” says Longobardi.
CGD says that it offers GaN transistors that can operate at significantly higher switching frequency with lower losses and lower on-resistance compared with state-of-the-art silicon devices. The firm is developing a range of GaN transistors, customized for different applications, which would enable it to push the boundaries of conversion systems in terms of efficiency and power density, it is reckoned.
Numerous companies, large and small, now offer GaN transistors, some using GaN-on-Si to benefit from larger and lower-cost wafers. While the efforts to date have focused on making GaN transistors work reliably and proving them in the market, existing GaN devices are still difficult to use, which impedes broad market adoption. CGD says it is focused on eliminating this obstacle by developing GaN devices that can be driven in a similar way to silicon transistors and are easy to use. The firm adds that its technology allows easy control using standard MOSFET drivers as well as micro-controllers, and complements this with additional smart features and protection functions, fully embedded into its product solutions.
“The Penta project creates a tremendous opportunity for CGD to engage with leading-edge companies in the area of power electronics,” says Longobardi. “Not only will the project advance the knowledge in GaN technology and provide insights into its complex facets, but will aim at delivering fully working prototypes in lighting, motor drives, converter blocks for renewable energies and on-board chargers for automotive with record specifications and outstanding performance.”