QPT’s qGaN Runs at High Voltage Without Overheating

January 19, 2024 by John Nieman

U.K.-based QPT’s qGaN technology solves the problems of overheating and radio frequency, allowing GaN applications to run at maximum speeds. Its innovation won a recent ABB challenge.

Powering electric motors of various kinds remains a dominant use of the world’s electricity supply, with 45% of all electricity usage linked to motors. Quantum Power Transformation (QPT), a power electronics company dedicated to gallium nitride (GaN) innovation, has been developing qGaN technology to improve the efficiency of drives and motors. 


Electric motors.

Electric motors. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock


QPT’s qGaN modules are GaN transistors capable of handling high voltage and achieving switching speeds under 2ns. The industry has struggled to maximize GaN technology, but qGaN modules can help unleash the potential of GaN technology that has been lying dormant. 

QPT’s innovative qGaN technology recently won ABB’s 2023 Power Density Startup Challenge for motor drive products.


GaN Market, Applications, and Challenges

The GaN market is in its infancy, but its potential is quickly being harnessed to improve technology applications, especially for high-voltage uses.


GaN market revenue and long-term growth potential.

GaN market revenue and long-term growth potential. Image used courtesy of MDPI


Gallium nitride is a semiconductor material and has been used in a variety of electronics dating back to the 1990s. More recently, GaN has moved into the solar power market, which is now being adapted for transistor technology. 

Thus far, design approaches that deploy GaN technology have focused on the 10-100kHz switching range. This range is only a fraction of the power potential of GaN technology, and it comprises the same range for competing alternatives like silicon and silicon carbide (SiC) transistors. But the challenges of overheating and electromagnetic interference (EMI) have suppressed the power and potential of GaN applications. 


QPT’s qGaN Performance Advantages 

The practical solution to overheating has been to power down under 100khz, which results in the same inefficiencies that have plagued other materials like silicon. However, QPT has successfully offered GaN transistors capable of super high frequencies up to 20MHz. 


Video used courtesy of QTP via YouTube


These qGaN modules, used in conjunction with other QPT technology, such as the WhisperGaN system, address the overheating problem and offer up to an 80% reduction in power usage at very high frequencies.  


Motor Design and VFD Placement 

The variable frequency drive (VFD) is a motor controller that varies the frequency and voltage of the power supply to help drive the electric motor. Most VFDs are connected to the motor by large copper cables capable of handling significant electricity loads. The VFD’s size necessitates this design arrangement, but QPT has found a way to economize significantly on the size of the VFD component. 

The qGaN technology helps reduce the VFD to about one-twentieth of the typical VFD size, making it possible to place it close to the motor in the system design. 


The size of the VFD in relation to the qGaN module.

The size of the VFD in relation to the qGaN module. Image used courtesy of QPT


The proximity of the VFD to the motor and the resulting cable-free design is ideal for a multitude of applications, including industrial pumps, robotics, and various automation needs.