Customised GaN test board accelerates design of wide-bandgap semiconductors

A customised gallium nitride (GaN) test board has been developed by Keysight Technologies for the company’s PD1500A dynamic power device analyser / double-pulse tester. According to the company, it delivers repeatable, reliable characterisation of wide-bandgap semiconductors and enables Tier 1 and OEM power converter designers to reduce prototype cycles and speed introduction of new products.

Power converters are a key component for enabling the electrification of the transportation, renewable energy and industrial markets. For example, in e-mobility, the main application of the power converter (ie traction inverter) is to efficiently convert the power stored in an electronic vehicle’s high voltage battery pack to drive the AC motor. There are many other applications for the power converter in electric vehicles (EVs), including the on-board charger, which is the key link for vehicle to grid applications.

To facilitate advances in power converter design, new wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor technologies are being commercialised, resulting in improvements in speed, voltage and thermal operation for efficiency gains, decreased sizes and reduced costs, reports Keysight. The resulting high-performance power converters, however, can be difficult to design.

To deliver consistent, reliable characterisation of WBG semiconductors, Keysight developed the PD1500A dynamic power device analyser. The modular analyser allows discrete silicon (Si) and silicon carbide (SiC) -based power devices to be characterised. The customised GaN test board means that the PD1500A delivers repeatable and reliable characterisation for faster switching devices, says the company.

GaN is currently only targeting on-board chargers and DC/DC converters in EVs. However, with the advent of vertical GaN, it is expected that operating voltages will catch up with SiC (1.2kV and higher), making GaN a potential choice for higher power applications in e-mobility.

A commercially available means for repeatable and reliable characterisation of GaN power devices, will accelerate the introduction of competitive EV technology to the market.

Keysight Technologies delivers advanced design and validation products with a dedication to speed and precision extending to software-driven insights and analytics to accelerate the development lifecycle, for design simulation, prototype validation, automated software testing, manufacturing analysis, and network performance optimisation and visibility in enterprise, service provider and cloud environments. Keysight’s customers are in communications and industrial ecosystems, aerospace and defence, automotive, energy, semiconductor and general electronics markets.

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