March 07, 2011

Future of Power Electronics

Research Needs and Opportunities in Power Electronics by MIT at APRA-E (46 pages)

Advances in power electronics are needed in:
* Inverters and rectifiers ac ↔ dc
* dc-dc converters dc ↔ dc

Greencarcongress- Transphorm has a gallium nitride dc to dc converter with over 99% efficiency

Transphorm says that its solutions cut energy waste by 20% and simplify the design and manufacturing of a wide variety of electrical systems and devices, including motor drives, power supplies and inverters for solar panels and electric vehicles.


Energy loss that occurs during power conversion is equivalent to the daily output of 318 coal plants, and costs the US economy $40 billion per year. To tackle that problem, Transphorm is commercializing a high-voltage normally off GaN solution. The company’s GaN-based power converters are designed with 600 Volt transistors and low loss power diodes, will come in industry-standard packages, and are designed for optimum high-frequency switching, lowest loss and highest efficiency.

Transphorm is initially targeting three main markets for its GaN power electronics, Parikh said: IT and power supplies (e.g., data centers); photovoltaic inverters; and motion control (i.e., motor drives). Eventually, Parikh said, Transphorm will tackle the hybrid and EV market, for which it is well-suited; GaN operates well at high temperatures.

Transphorm is currently working with its first-generation GaN material; Parikh sees being able to deliver a 5-10x improvement on that with coming generations.

Directions for improvements:
* Miniaturization and integration

- Passive energy storage components are the key to advances in miniaturization

---Magnetics are especially critical for dc-dc conversion
---Both Magnetics and Capacitors are important for dc-ac conversion

- Energy storage requirements vary inversely with switching frequency: C, L proportional to f -1

- To miniaturize dc-dc converters, we must dramatically increase switching frequencies (factors of 10-100)

* Reduced size (and cost) enable new ways of exploiting power electronics in applications

Ultra-high efficiency
* Important for renewables, power supplies, …
* reduction of useless energy consumption
* Must be achieved without increasing size/cost



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