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Panasonic Gallium Nitride (GaN) Solutions

Gallium Nitride (GaN) is a very hard, mechanically stable wide bandgap semiconductor material with high heat capacity and thermal conductivity. In its pure form it resists cracking and can be deposited in thin film on Sapphire (AL2O3) or Silicon Carbide (SiC), despite the mismatch in their lattice constants. GaN can be doped with Silicon (Si) or with Oxygen to n-type and with Magnesium (Mg) to p-type; however, the Si and Mg atoms change the way the GaN crystals grow, introducing tensile stresses and making them brittle. Gallium nitride compounds also tend to have a high spatial defect frequency, on the order of a hundred million to ten billion defects per square centimeter.

GaN is less expensive than Silicon Carbide (SiC), and is used for other wide band-gap properties and is applied where SiC is cost prohibitive. With the current trend of increasing power consumption in many of today's application, SiC and GaN devices are expected to be the solution as Silicon is approaching its performance plateau.

What is GaN?

With various environmental issues, the depletion of oil resources, limited source of energy, etc., energy saving became a worldwide priority. The role of power supplies of electrical systems in energy conservation is rapidly becoming an important part of the solution.

Power devices used in electrical energy conversion and control systems that consume tremendous amount of power during operations are especially regarded as the key devices to "save energy". It is therefore important to optimize the efficiency of these devices to minimize energy loss during their operation.

Power devices have two contributors of energy loss

1. "Conduction loss" that is due to the resistance in the device current loop.

2. "Switching loss" that occurs during the transition between "on" and "off" states.

In order to reduce these energy losses, it is necessary to "reduce the resistance of the device current loop" and "improve the switching speed".

GaN has the potential to reduce energy loss of the power devices. "GaN (gallium nitride)", a compound of Ga (Gallium) and N (Nitrogen), possesses high breakdown voltage and low conduction resistance characteristics that enable high-speed switching and miniaturization. Unlike conventional Si transistors that require bigger chip area to reduce on-resistance, GaN devices having small sizes (i.e. low parasitic capacitance) allow high speed switching and miniaturization with ease.

SI MOS Transistor VS GaN 

GaN is the next generation power device able to minimize power loss and achieve high-speed switching with the following characteristics:

  • Miniaturization
  • High breakdown voltage
  • High-speed switching

GaN Properties and Characteristics

The special features of GaN such as high voltage potential, ease of miniaturization and high-speed switching, enable GaN to achieve high breakdown voltage and low conduction resistance.
The "high breakdown voltage" is achieved because GaN has a wide band gap property. Band-gap is a region formed on the junction of materials where no electron exists. GaN has a band-gap wider than that of an Si. This enable GaN to achieve higher breakdown voltage than Si. With smaller size than Si devices at the same voltage breakdown, GaN devices allow miniaturization more than Si devices. Also, miniaturization reduces its parasitic capacitance that in turn improves its switching speed.
The "low conduction resistance" is achieved because the on-resistance of the power device is inversely proportional to the cube of the electrical breakdown. In other words, it is expected that GaN devices will have an on-resistance approximately 3 digits lower than the limit of that of Si devices theoretically. In addition, GaN devices have high electron saturation velocity that makes it suitable for high-speed applications. 

IV Characteristic Comparison Between GaN and Si 


Conventional GaN transistors have a serious issue on "current collapse". Current collapse is a condition wherein resistance increases when a high voltage is applied on the device, causing destruction or malfunction during long continuous operation. This is the reason why conventional GaN transistors are impractical to use.

Panasonic successfully overcame this issue with the following technologies:

1. Unique Gate Injection Transistor (GIT) structure and high quality GaN epitaxial growth on 6-inch Si substrate.

Panasonic has developed a unique GIT structure using hole injection from p-type gate. Injecting holes from p-type gate generates electrons as much as the number of holes in channel block. The generated electrons that flow into the drain electrode increase the drain current. Because the effective mass of hole is 100 times larger than that of electron, the injected holes stay around the gate and allow electrons to increase to approximately 100 times their normal number. Using this phenomenon, Panasonic has succeeded to dramatically reduce the resistance of transistor. In addition, by using p-type gate, they have achieved normally-off state by decreasing only the electrons of the channel block under the gate. 

GaN Device Structure
GaN-FET Comparision to GIT 
2. Current collapse suppression with trap density control by improving the fabrication process.

"Current collapse" is a serious issue of GaN power transistor that occurs when an on-resistance increases when high voltage is applied. This is believed to be caused by trapped electrons in high electric field. To prevent current collapse, Panasonic improved the crystalline quality of GaN and modified the fabrication process to decrease trap density, and furthermore adopted a transistor structure that reduces electric field. With this, they have successfully suppressed the increase of on-resistance during the continuous operation at 600V. Consequently, they achieved a stable continuous operation required for practical use.

Panasonic has achieved the following features of GaN with the unique technologies above.

Result Under Actual Operating Conditions 

1. Achieved continuous stable operation at 600V by suppressing the increase of on-resistance during continuous switching operation.

2. Achieved high efficiency by reducing the on-resistance.

3. Application to various power devices is possible because of its normally-off state.

Panasonic GaN VS SiC Comparisions

Panasonic's Gallium Nitride (GaN) solution combines the benefits of a GaN power device with an MCU for power control. This provides the industry's smallest and most efficient power solution available. The GaN power device offers high speed switching and the MCU provides the industry's fastest processing. Together they offer a solution that is highly efficient, is 5 times faster than other solutions, uses 50% of PCB space, and has low heat generation, thus requiring only a small heat sink.

MCU Power Control

Panasonic's 600V Gallium Nitride (GaN) Power Transistors, with its blocking voltage of 600V, enabling fast stable switching operations. This transistor has a normally-off gate injection for power switching systems that require normally-off operations for safe operations. The GaN transistors contribute to save energies together with smaller system size in a variety of power switching systems for industrial and consumer applications. Features include normally-off gate injection, stable switching operation free from "current collapse", and highly efficient switching at high frequencies.

Panasonic 600V Gallium Nitride (GaN) Power Transistors
  • Normally-off with single device (no cascade connection required)
  • Current collapse-free 600V and more
  • Low on-resistance of 65mΩ, which increases the drain current using conductivity modulation
  • Crystal growth of GaN on 6-inch silicon substrate
  • Zero recovery
  • Highly efficient switching at high frequencies
  • AC/DC Power Supply Unit for Server & Radio Base Stations
  • Automotive: HEV / EV / PHEV
  • PV Inverter
  • Motor Inverter
Preliminary Specifications
Blocking Voltage 600V
Drain-Current (Continuous) 15A
RDS(on) 65mΩ
Gate Charge (Qg) 11nC

Panasonic GaN Solution Evaluation Board

Panasonic's GaN Solution Evaluation Board provides engineers a method for the performance check of the GaN Transistor and MCUs. It is used for a LLC resonant circuit with 1kW output power delivery, 1MHz PWM switching frequency, and achieved 96.4% efficiency. This GaN Evaluation Board can shorten 2 months and more of the customer's feasibility study and fundamental development period.

Additional Resources

Hardware Reference Guide Hardware Reference Guide
Kit Reference Guide Kit Reference Guide
Panasonic GaN Solution Evaluation Board

I-V Characteristics  On-State I-V Characteristics

DC Characteristics of GIT 

Switching Characteristics 

Current Collapse
Current Collapse in GaN Transistors  Current Collapse VS Off-Bias Voltage 

Panasonic 600V Gallium Nitride (GaN) Suite Microcontroller offers the industry's smallest and highest efficiency power control solution. By combining their expertise in GaN technology with a microcontroller solution they can offer customers a high efficiency, low on-resistance, and low switching loss. This device offers a CPU operating frequency of 120MHz, a high-speed A/D converter (1.6Msps) with converter arithmetic units and multi-feedback control assist function.

Panasonic 600V Gallium Nitride (GaN) Suite Microcontroller

Buy Panasonic 600V Gallium Nitride (GaN) Suite Microcontroller View Product Detail
  • High Speed Processing
    • CPU Operating Frequency : Max. 120MHz
    • High-Speed A/D Converter: 12-bit @ 1.6Msps
    • Converter Arithmetic Units & Multi-Feedback
      Control Assist Function

  • High Resolution
  • Low Power Consumption
    • 35mA @ 120MHz
    • Feedback Control Instruction Memory
Block Diagram
Block Diagram 


Panasonic's GaN MCU Software Development Modules are low-cost on-board debugging and non-volatile memory on-board programming environment available, even for portable and in-vehicle equipment for which ICE is difficult to use. These tools support the MN103H series GaN Microcontrollers. Features of these modules include debugger, C-Compiler, programmer software (EX Commander), two model types (basic and stand-alone), various target connection types (selectable from 14- and 10-pin box connectors and compact flexible cables), and supports gang programming, which allows up to 8 devices to be controlled.

Panasonic EX1 Isolated - DWire10 Pin
EX1 Isolated - DWire10 Pin
Panasonic EX2 Isolated - DWire10 Pin
EX2 Isolated - DWire10 Pin

Panasonic GaN MCU Software Development Modules View Product List
  • Low-Cost On-Board Debugging And Non-Volatile Memory On-Board Programming Environment Available
  • Programming To The Built-In Non-Volatile Memory Of AM Microcontrollers Is Also Supported For Mass-Produced Products
  • Supports The MN103H Series GaN Microcontrollers
  • Includes Debugger (DebugFactory® Builder), C-Compiler, And Programmer Software (EX Commander) For Panasonic Microcontroller Products
  • Supports New Products By Providing Free Product Definition Files On Panasonic Website
  • Isolated Target Connection Method
  • Target I/O Voltage: 2.7V to 5.5V
  • Target Power Supply Current Consumption: 5V = 30mA: 3.3V = 25mA
  • Target Voltage Error Detection: Yes
  • Target Power Supply: 3.3V/5.5V, Max. 200mA
  • Function/Cost:
    • EX1 Basic Model (Used Via Continuous Connection With Host PC)
    • EX2 Stand-Alone Model (Supports Stand-Alone Programming Without A Host PC)
  • Self-Test Function: To Be Supported By Version Up

  • Debugging Interface: DWire32A/DWire32L/DWire8/DWire13L
  • Device Power Supply: USB Bus Power
  • Host OS: Windows XP (SP or later), Vista (32-Bit OS Only) and Windows 7 (32-Bit/64-Bit OS Only)
  • Host Interface: USB1.1 FullSpeed/2.0 High Speed
  • Target Connection Methods:
    • Standard Model: Normal Connection With Target
    • Isolated Model: Electrically Isolated Connection With Target
  • Target Connection Types Are Selectable From 14- And 10-Pin Box Connectors And Compact Flexible Cables
  • Supports Gang Programming, Which Allows Up To 8 Devices To Be controlled

EX1 (Basic Model)
EX2 (Stand-Alone Model)
Stand-Alone Writing
No Yes
Built-In Device Memory None 1GB
Device Display
LED x 2 LCD (2 rows x 16 characters each), LED x 2
Operating Switches 
None Push Switch x 2

Closer Look at the Panasonic GaN

Panasonic GaN Lab Test

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