Gallium nitride (GaN) chargers were everywhere CES 2020. This modern alternative to silicon means that smaller and more efficient chargers and electric bricks are on the way. Here’s how it works.
The advantages of a gallium nitride charger
GaN chargers are physically smaller than current chargers. Indeed, the gallium nitride chargers do not require as many components as the silicon chargers. The material is capable of conducting much higher voltages over time than silicon.
GaN chargers are not only more efficient at transferring current, but it also means that less energy is lost in heat. So more energy is spent on whatever you are trying to charge. When the components are more efficient at transmitting energy to your devices, you generally need less of them.
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1. It’s 50% smaller than a standard 61W MacBook charger
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As a result, the electrical bricks and GaN chargers will be significantly smaller as technology becomes more widespread. There are also other benefits, such as a higher switching frequency which allows faster wireless power transfer and larger “air spaces” between the charger and the device.
GaN semiconductors are generally more expensive today than silicon. However, due to the improvement in efficiency, dependence on additional materials, such as heat sinks, filters and circuitry, is reduced. A manufacturer estimates savings of 10-20% in this area. This could improve further once the economic benefits of large-scale production come into play.
You could even save a little money on your electricity bill, because more efficient chargers mean less wasted energy. Don’t expect to see a huge change with energy efficient devices like laptops and smartphones, however.
What is gallium nitride?
Gallium nitride is a semiconductor material which gained importance in the 1990s thanks to the manufacture of LEDs. GaN was used to create the first white LEDs, blue lasers and color LED screens that you could see in daylight. In Blu-ray DVD players, GaN produces blue light that reads data from the DVD.
It seems that GaN will soon replace silicon in many areas. Silicon manufacturers have worked tirelessly for decades to improve silicon-based transistors. according to Moore’s law (named after the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and, later, the CEO of Intel, Gordon Moore), the number of transistors in a silicon integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.
This observation was made in 1965, and has been widely verified in the past 50 years. In 2010, however, the progress of semiconductors slowed at this rate for the first time. Many analysts (and Moore himself) predict that Moore’s law will be obsolete by 2025.
Production of GaN transistors increased in 2006. Improved manufacturing processes allow GaN transistors to be manufactured in the same facilities as the silicon type. This cuts costs and encourages more silicon manufacturers to use GaN to produce transistors instead.
Why is gallium nitride superior to silicon?
The advantages of GaN over silicon boil down to energy efficiency. Like GaN Systems, a manufacturer specializing in gallium nitride, Explain:
“All semiconductor materials have what’s called a band gap. It is a range of energy in a solid where no electron can exist. Simply put, a band gap is related to the ability of a solid material to conduct electricity. Gallium nitride has a band gap of 3.4 eV, compared to the band gap of 1.12 eV of silicon. The wider band gap of gallium nitride means that it can withstand higher voltages and temperatures than silicon. “
Efficient Power Conversion Corporation, another manufacturer of GaN, declared that GaN is able to conduct electrons 1000 times more efficiently than silicon, and with lower manufacturing costs, to start.
Higher band gap efficiency means that current can pass through a GaN chip faster than a silicon chip. This could result in faster processing capabilities in the future. Simply put, GaN chips will be faster, smaller, more energy efficient and (possibly) cheaper than silicon ones.
Where to buy a GaN charger today
the Anker PowerPort Atom PD1 is a 30 watt charger with fast charging capabilities. It is designed for phones, tablets, laptops, etc. You will notice that it is about 40% smaller than a charger that does not use GaN technology. Anker also produces 60 watts PowerPort Atom PD2—Which has two USB-C ports, so you can charge multiple devices simultaneously – and the four ports PowerPort Atom III Slim.
RAVPower has a similar range. His PD Pioneer 30W offers modest throughput with a USB-C port. The strongest PD Pioneer 61W manages more power, but still only contains one USB-C port. If you want to use one of these chargers, your laptop must support USB-C power supply.
Other GaN chargers, such as these Aukey presented at CES 2020, will not be available until later this year. However, we expect to see a lot more on the market soon.
Perhaps the most exciting GaN charger on the horizon is the HyperJuice by Sanho. Successfully funded on Kickstarter (it has raised over $ 2 million), Sanho aims to deliver the world’s first (and smallest) 100-watt USB-C charger by February 2020. It will be the first to power power and charge high-end devices. laptops like the MacBook Pro.
The good news is that none of these chargers are particularly expensive. The 61-watt RAVPower retails for around $ 40, and Sanho has announced a price range between $ 50 and $ 100 for the commercial version of their 100-watt charger. For reference, a brand new Apple 96-Watt USB-C Power Adapter costs $ 79, and is considerably larger and heavier than the credit card-sized HyperJuice.
Chargers of the future
You probably won’t see many GaN chargers in the wild until the big hardware manufacturers, like Apple and Samsung, start including them with their new computers and smartphones.
Think about it, when was the last time you bought a charger? How many chargers plugged in around your home or office have come with a past purchase?
If you decide to start enjoying the charging benefits of GaN now, you can do so without paying the premium normally associated with advanced technology.