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Chargers with gallium nitride (GaN) are now offered by various manufacturers. The silicon alternative used in these power supplies and their chips has several advantages. For example, the loaders are more space-saving and lighter; They are also more efficient due to the lower generation of heat. Here in the blog you can already find articles on gallium nitride power supplies from AUKEY and Anker. The following is about the use of the material in electronics itself.
Gallium nitride is an odorless solid that is almost insoluble in water. The empirical formula or ratio formula is GaN. Gallium nitride is a semiconductor that is already used in optoelectronics, where it is used, for example, for blue and green LEDs and for violet laser diodes. The material is usually shown in crystalline, transparent, colorless form; but it can also be opaque, yellow, gray or white. Further scientific information as well as chemical data and pictures can be found at Wikipedia (German / English).
With regard to its use as a semiconductor in computer chips, GaN offers a larger band gap than silicon or silicon (Si). Expressed in numbers, Si offers a value of 300 eV at 1,12K. GaN offers a band gap of 300 eV at 3,37 K (Source). In practice this means that gallium nitride allows higher electrical voltages; ergo higher voltages. The current can also flow faster through GaN than through Si chips.
For computer chips, this means broken down to the essentials: higher processor performance with smaller chips and less heat generation. This is an interesting development, especially for smartphones, but also for laptops, smartwatches and computers of all kinds. Not only are smaller or more powerful components possible with the same size, but also less energy loss - a higher degree of efficiency can be achieved.
Computer chips all well and good, but why are we seeing the use of the silicon alternative in chargers for the time being? Because it's pretty convenient to use here. Because where old chargers did not monitor the charge level of the battery to be charged, monitoring systems emerged over time, which throttle the current after charging half the battery capacity in order to protect the battery.
With gallium nitride instead of silicon in chargers, this technology is improved while the supplied current increases per unit of time. Or to put it another way: With GaN chargers, the practical benefit is shown in the faster charging due to smaller hardware, but the same level of safety for the battery. This is particularly important for fast-charging components - for example for chargers or docks for the Apple MacBook with Thunderbolt 3.
Habit and money are two sticking points here. Most infrastructures, manufacturers and peripherals are currently designed for the creation of chips and boards based on silicon. It may be a while before gallium nitride chips and boards become standard. Also because the changeover, including the procurement of raw materials, manufacturing processes and so on, means an expenditure of time and money.
GaN power supplies are currently small examples of how it works. It remains to be seen when the large industry for smartphones, computers, industrial electronics and so on will follow suit. Until then we can look forward to the AUKEY GaNFast or Anker GaN power supplies. If you are interested in these, please click on the links listed above. In addition, you can do that Anker PowerPort Atom PD 1 name (mini charger with 30 W).
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Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.