Testing GaN Devices to Failure Demonstrates Robustness Unmatched by Si Power MOSFETs

April 02, 2020 by Paul Shepard

Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) announces its Phase Eleven Reliability Report, documenting the strategy used to achieve a remarkable field reliability record of its GaN power devices. This strategy relied upon tests forcing devices to fail under a variety of conditions to create stronger products to serve demanding applications such as lidar for autonomous vehicles, LTE base stations, vehicle headlamps, and satellites to name just a few.

Testing devices to the point of failure creates an understanding of the amount of margin between data sheet limits and products in application. More importantly, intrinsic failure mechanisms of devices are identified.  The knowledge of these intrinsic failure mechanisms is used to determine the root cause of failures. Knowledge of the behavior of a device over time, temperature, electrical or mechanical stress can provide users with an accurate representation of the safe operating life of a product over a more general set of operating conditions.

This report is divided into seven segments, each dealing with a different failure mechanism:

  • Section 1: Intrinsic failure mechanisms impacting the gate electrode of eGaN® devices
  • Section 2: Intrinsic mechanisms underlying dynamic RDS(on)
  • Section 3: Safe operating area (SOA)
  • Section 4: Testing devices to destruction under short-circuit conditions
  • Section 5: Custom test to assess reliability over long-term lidar pulse stress conditions
  • Section 6: Mechanical force stress testing
  • Section 7: Field reliability

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According to Dr. Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder of EPC, "eGaN devices have been in volume production for over ten years and have demonstrated very high reliability in both laboratory testing and high-volume customer applications. The release of EPC's 11th reliability report represents the cumulative experience of millions of devices over a ten-year period and five generations of technology. These reliability tests have been undertaken to continue our understanding the behavior of GaN devices over a wide range of stress conditions."

Dr. Lidow continued, "The results of our reliability studies show that GaN is an extremely robust technology that continues to improve at a rapid pace. EPC is committed to subjecting GaN devices to rigid reliability standards and sharing the results with the power conversion industry."