Another reason why gallium nitride is so reliable inherently stems from its lateral device structure. “We can integrate protection functions monolithically on the chip, which is simply impossible with vertical power devices, i.e., neither silicon nor silicon carbide,” stresses Gene Sheridan, CEO and co-founder of Navitas Semiconductor. Protection against overvoltage, overcurrent, overtemperature, short circuit, as well as gate protection and ESD protection for all pins are fundamental features that enhance the reliability of gallium nitride, he said.
Sheridan also highlights another aspect: “Reliability is always inversely proportional to the number of interconnects. By reducing manual tasks, reducing the number of components, and reducing the number of interconnects at system level, reliability is substantially improved beyond just the transistor.”
That includes heat sinks, which often become obsolete with GaN, he said, as well as passive components that become smaller and can thus be automatically picked and placed surface-mounted or even integrated into the GaN IC. However, not all components must be integrated monolithically, the experts unanimously agree – especially in the case of half-bridges. This approach is highly desirable because 70 to 80 percent of all power electronic systems are based on half-bridge concepts.