There’s been constant speculation regarding what the next generation of power electronics will be like, along with the key features that will make this concept come to fruition. A potential solution could be brewing in Aalto University, where researchers are looking into new solutions for power electronics based on ideas that were previously dismissed by industry researchers and vendors.
Upon revisiting research that was previously discontinued or on hiatus, Aalto University physicists discovered a microscopic mechanism, which enables gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors used in electronic devices to distribute large quantities of electric power. Granted gallium nitride is a catalyst for powerful electronics, the compound does need to process significantly more energy than equivalent compounds. This is one of the main reasons why gallium nitride hasn’t been utilized to greater extents by researchers.
A recent breakthrough occurred in this research, where researchers discovered that the utilization of beryllium atoms in conjunction with gallium nitride strongly addresses these longstanding issues. The process (which scientists refer to as “doping”) mitigates power loss, as a mechanism can effectively reduce heat, thus leading to more efficiency.
“Our results provide valuable knowledge for experimental scientists about the fundamentals of how beryllium changes its behavior during the manufacturing process,” says Professor Filip Tuomisto, the project’s lead researcher at Aalto University. “During it (the process), while being subjected to high temperatures, the doped compound functions very differently than the end result.”
The outcome holds a lot of promise for the anticipated new generation of energy efficient power electronics with GaN enabling significantly greater effectiveness than silicon.
“The magnitude of the change in energy efficiency could be as similar as when we moved to LED lights from traditional incandescent lightbulbs,” Tuomisto added. “It could be possible to cut down the global power consumption by up to ten percent by cutting the energy losses in power distribution systems.”
The findings have been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)