The competition of SiC and GaN

March 31, 2023

Latest company news about The competition of SiC and GaN

Since around 2001, compound semiconductor gallium nitride has triggered a lighting revolution, which in some ways is the fastest technological revolution in human history. According to a study by the International Energy Agency, the share of gallium nitride-based light-emitting diodes in the global lighting market has increased from zero to over 50% in just two decades. Research company Mordor Intelligence recently predicted that LED lighting will reduce lighting power consumption by 30% to 40% globally in the next seven years. According to data from the United Nations Environment Programme, lighting accounts for approximately 20% of electricity consumption and 6% of carbon dioxide emissions globally.

latest company news about The competition of SiC and GaN  0

This revolution is far from over. Indeed, it is about to leap to a higher level. The semiconductor technology that has transformed the lighting industry, gallium nitride (GaN), is also part of the power electronics revolution, which is poised to take off. Because one of the compound semiconductors, silicon carbide (SiC), has begun to replace silicon based electronic products in the huge and important field of power electronics.

GaN and SiC devices perform better and are more efficient than the silicon components they are replacing. There are hundreds of millions of such devices worldwide, many of which operate for several hours per day, so the energy savings will be significant. Compared to GaN LEDs replacing incandescent lamps and other traditional lighting, the rise of GaN and SiC power electronics will ultimately have a greater positive impact on the Earth's climate.

In almost all places where it is necessary to convert alternating current to direct current or direct current to direct current, wasted power is reduced. This conversion occurs in wall chargers for mobile phones or laptops, larger chargers and inverters that power electric vehicles, and elsewhere. As other silicon strongholds also fall into new semiconductors, there will be similar savings. Wireless base station amplifiers are one of the growing applications in which these emerging semiconductors clearly have advantages. In the effort to mitigate climate change, eliminating power consumption and waste is a handy outcome, and these semiconductors are the way we harvest it.

This is a new example of a common pattern in the history of technology: the simultaneous achievement of two competing innovations. How will all this get rid of? In which application areas will SiC dominate, and in which areas will GaN dominate? Careful examination of the comparative advantages of these two semiconductors can provide us with some reliable clues.



Gallium nitride and silicon carbide: their competitive areas

latest company news about The competition of SiC and GaN  1

Today, SiC dominates EV inverters and is typically located where voltage blocking and power handling capabilities are critical and frequencies are low. GaN is the preferred technology for high-frequency performance critical, such as 5G and 6G base stations, and radar and high-frequency power conversion applications, such as wall plug adapters, microinverters, and power supplies.

But the tug of war between GaN and SiC has just begun. Regardless of the competition, one application, one market, one market, we can confidently say that the Earth's environment will become a winner. As this new cycle of technological renewal and revitalization moves unstoppably forward, billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be avoided in the coming years.