Nexperia and Kyocera AVX to Jointly Develop GaN Power Modules For EVs
The companies will look to combine Nexperia’s extensive background in gallium nitride (GaN) with Kyocera AVX’s expertise in advanced packaging techniques.
With the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) and the advancement of systems in even traditional gas-powered vehicles, electrical power is ever more critical in today’s automotive industry. And as that trend accelerates, so too will the demand for power semiconductors able to provide efficient power conversion at increasingly higher power densities.
But in order for those semiconductors to adequately dissipate heat and meet their published specs in the unforgiving automotive environment, they must be housed in packages that can weather the stress.
Rugged packaging is crucial for semiconductor operation in increasingly electrified modern vehicles. Image used courtesy of Tim Meyer/Unsplash
Against that backdrop, Nexperia and Kyocera AVX last Thursday entered into a new strategic partnership, whereby the two will synergize their respective expertise in GaN technology and device packaging to forge new GaN power modules targeting EVs.
Nexperia is a power GaN FET powerhouse with an eye toward packaging, as evinced by its new CCPAK package highlighted earlier this month at PCIM Europe 2022. For its part, Kyocera AVX is a leading supplier of advanced electronic components for the automotive industry, and is also a producer of multiple lines of power modules, though none have so far targeted EVs.
Nexperia and GaN Technology
As described by Nexperia, GaN technology enables the creation of power semiconductors with low on-resistance (RDS(ON)) and exceptionally high switching frequency capability. This one-two punch means that less power is wasted transversing the semiconductor in its “ON” state. To boot, the higher switching frequency enables necessary passive filtering components to be smaller and lighter, saving precious board space and weight for automakers, irrespective of all-electric or combustion architecture.
Packaging is Key to GaN
Carlos Castro, VP and GM of GaN development at Nexperia, is naturally a strong advocate of the benefits GaN technology offers to EV applications. Still, there’s a catch.
Optimized packaging technology "is required in order to more fully realize the benefits of GaN devices, especially in high-power systems,” Castro said.
He added, “Nexperia recognizes the advanced technology offering and leading position which Kyocera AVX holds in the automotive industry and believes that this joint collaboration in the development of GAN automotive power modules will enable both companies to deliver superior EV power systems solutions to our customers.”
Nexperia’s Latest GaN Power Transistors
The AEC-Q100 qualified devices are offered in the company’s CCPAK1212 package, which is far better at absorbing mechanical stress than traditional QFN packages. The CCPAK1212 allows for visual (AOI) soldering inspection, vastly lowering manufacturing costs. The low thermal resistance from junction to mounting base allows for more efficient cooling. What’s more, lower switching losses and EMI are made possible by the package’s lower inductance.
The GAN039-650NTBA (right) is offered in a CCPAK1212i inverted package. Images [modified] used courtesy of Nexperia
The normally off, N-channel devices can handle up to 650 V with drain currents of 60 A and have the capacity to dissipate up to 300 W. They offer RDS(ON)s of 33 mΩ and can operate at up to 175 °C.
- Automotive onboard charger systems
- Automotive DC-DC conversion
- Hard and soft switching converters for industrial and datacom power
- Bridgeless totem pole PFC
- PV and UPS inverters
- Servo motor drives
Kyocera AVX's New Direction
Kyocera AVX is a serious player when it comes to products such as capacitors, and the company bolstered that status in March with its purchase of ROHM’s entire tantalum and polymer capacitor line.
But the company’s partnership with Nexperia signals what could be a significant new direction in Kyocera AVX's strategic vision. To this point, the company has made little headway into the automotive power module space, let alone the world of GaN-based modules. Kyocera AVX lists eleven products in a series of general rectifier diode modules, and three in a series of thyristor modules, none of which are specified as automotive-qualified, though the company describes both series as targeting the in-vehicle equipment market.
Kyocera AVX's series of rectifier diode modules (left) and thyristor modules. Images [modified] used courtesy of Kyocera AVX
Now, per a written statement from Thomas Rinschede, deputy VP at Kyocera AVX’s Sensing and Control Division in Salzburg, Austria, the company may pursue the space with far more zeal.
“We are very pleased to finally turn our successful and long-lasting relationship into a real partnership to strengthen Kyocera AVX’s strategy to provide high-quality automotive compliant modules,” Rinschede said.