The introduction of the mercury arc rectifier by Peter Cooper Hewitt in 1902 marks the emergence of power electronics. Then gradually evolve with triodes, metal tank rectifiers, ignitrons, and vacuum tube rectifiers. The electronic revolution takes a new phase with the innovation of the Silicon Transistor in 1948.
Silicon has metamorphosed into different forms to serve the consumer with better and more efficient devices over the years. In power electronics, SCR was the first started replacing in rectifiers and cyclo converters. The second electronics revolution began with the development of a commercial thyristor by the General Electric Company in 1958 and was the beginning of a new era of power electronics. Since then, many different types of power semiconductor devices and conversion techniques have been introduced. One of the recent applications turned out to power electric vehicles.
NexGen is changing the power electronics equation and helping our customers stay ahead of the competition by providing them solutions for a more sustainable world. They build innovative Vertical-GaN-based systems that enable the next generation of power conversion. Smaller, lighter, and more efficient, their Vertical-GaN-based software-scalable power systems have the lowest power losses at the highest power density compared to competitors. To know more about the recent developments and their innovative approach to the power electronics industry, we get in touch with Shahin Sharifzadeh, co-CEO of NexGen Power Systems.
Innovations and Revolutionizing Technology Solutions with Vertical GaN
While talking to Shahin Sharifzadeh, co-CEO of NexGen Power; he introduced us to the Vertical GaN. Power electronics play an essential part in virtually any device that we use in our daily lives. We use power electronics to charge laptops, power electric vehicles, and data centers, and enable LED lighting solutions. For decades, the power electronics industry has used traditional silicon technologies, which are highly inefficient for these types of applications.
At NexGen, we are designing, developing, and creating the smallest, lightest, most cost-effective power conversion systems in the world. Our power systems are based on NexGen’s proprietary Vertical GaN technology – the world’s first GaN-on-GaN technology, and the only High Voltage (700V, 1200V) and Robust (Avalanche rated, 10µs short-circuit protection) GaN technology running at 1+ MHz switching frequency. NexGen’s power systems dramatically reduce cost, size, and weight, and will help to accelerate the transition to cleaner and renewable energy systems. The first product we’re working on is a 240W power supply unit, which can be combined to provide higher wattage power supplies as needed, like 500W power units for various applications. NexGen technology permits our customers to focus on product differentiation and innovation. By solving these long-standing technology barriers, NexGen’s solutions will enable consumers to charge their laptops, including high-performance gaming computers, and electric vehicles much faster and more efficiently! We will enable data centers to operate more cost-effectively and will improve efficiencies across multiple industries and applications.
NextGen’s Step in the EV Revolution
In my next question, EV has to be a part and Shahin expounded on that further. Continued EV development requires improvement in three key areas: range, performance, and cost. New and more efficient power conversion systems are essential to all three of those key areas. NexGen Power Systems addresses all three critical technology segments and offers a compelling value proposition to accelerate improvements in the EV sector. Here’s how we expect to solve these fundamental issues:
Extending EV Range: Increasing range can be done by either increasing battery capacity, which increases car weight and cost, or by delivering higher energy from existing battery technologies, which requires higher power efficiencies. NexGen’s Vertical GaN power conversion systems deliver extremely low switching losses (zero voltage switching), enabling high inverter efficiency for maximum battery pack performance and higher efficiency and performance for on-board chargers.
Enhancing Performance: Higher speed and performance largely depend on vehicle weight. Reducing weight requires smaller/lighter batteries and smaller cables. To accomplish these improvements, EVs require higher power density modules to deliver the same level of performance while operating at higher voltages (800V).
NexGen’s Vertical GaN offers switching speeds at 1+MHz, reducing the size and weight of the power systems while also delivering high break down voltage of 1.2kV and above, with short circuit protection and avalanche robustness. NexGen’s technologies will improve the design and performance of onboard chargers and DC-DC converters and inverters.
Reducing Cost: Smaller batteries and reduced cabling can significantly reduce EV costs. NexGen’s highly efficient power systems enable those cost savings. A 0.1% increase in efficiency can save up to $500 in battery costs, which shows just some of the benefits that will come from NexGen solutions.
NexSys 240W Ultra-Compact Power Adapter Winning the competitive Race
When I asked about their NexSys 240W Ultra-Compact Power Adapter, Shahin was so generous as to elaborate it in such detail. Current best-in-class standard power adapters are large in size, inefficient, run hot, and are generally heavy because of the legacy silicon technologies on which they run. Because NexGen systems use our Vertical GaN technology, the NexSys 240W power systems for laptops, for example, are 94% higher in efficiency, 61% smaller in size, 45% lighter, and provide 2.5X more power than standard power adapters. To get a quick sense of our leap in technology and efficiency, two NexSys 240W power systems can literally fit into one of today’s standard best-in-class power adapters.
While talking about their new launches, R&D, and expansion plan Shahin responded that We’ve received an overwhelming response from the market and potential customers to our products, technologies, and commitment to reinventing power electronics. In response to those positive reactions and significant market needs, we expect to scale and expand our India R&D operations and our FAB operations in Syracuse, New York where Vertical GaN power semiconductors are manufactured.
NexGen’s Vertical GaN, the world’s first GaN-on-GaN power semiconductor technology, unlocks significant, revolutionary improvements in power conversion. To realize the full benefits of GaN, NexGen has developed fundamental, patented technologies that enable Vertical GaN to achieve 1+ MHz switching frequency. We are now sampling our first products to lead customers: including the NexSys 240W – The World’s Smallest and Most Efficient Computing & Gaming power supply units and NexGen Helios power systems for LED lighting. We expect these systems to be commercially available at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023.
NexGen has established an R&D Center of Excellence in Bengaluru, India to help design and develop its power systems.
NexGen’s Bengaluru Center of Excellence is a fast-growing team of engineers in power electronics, mechanical design, firmware and software, testing, and board layout. Beyond its engineering expertise, NexGen India’s office also helps to develop and drive the company’s global marketing efforts and campaigns.
By the end of 2022, we expect NexGen India to l be one of the company’s largest offices. With a strategic manufacturing partner also located in India, NexGen proudly participates in the ‘Make in India’ program.
Challenges that pave the way for an expedition
It becomes mandatory to look at his incredible journey. In his own words- “As I look back at this incredible journey, I have more appreciation for how a group of talented and dedicated engineers in Silicon Valley has transformed the world – from personal computers to the internet, to cellphones to cloud computing. I still remember my first hands-on experience on 2-inch Silicon wafers at Stanford through the challenges of developing various technologies for Memories, Microprocessors, and Image sensors on 5, 6, 8, and 12-inch Silicon wafers in the industry. I have learned that confronting difficult problems and innovating new things is always possible if you have the commitment and perseverance to succeed. I have worked all my life on Silicon technology; now it’s time to transform the Power Systems industry with Vertical GaN.”
Sheeba Chauhan | Sub Editor | ELE Times