Gallium nitride makes the DC to AC conversion process much more effective.
The name of the company is Transphorm, and since its inception in 2007 it has been busy transforming the very nature of energy.
No bumps on solar cells, no cars that run on jellied jellyfish. Transphorm, emerging at the head of the class after three years of sitting in the back row, has discovered a technology that could ultimately capture some of the power lost in converting from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).
This is done by your regional electric utility, which transmits electricity in DC and delivers power to the plug-ins in your home as AC. Why? It’s cheaper, for one thing. It’s also safer, and the amount of power lost to heat during transmission is minimal.
dot dot dot as they say
Increasing energy efficiency is one of the best ways of achieving that “green energy” economy we all want and need. Waste not, want not, as my mother used to say, and this particular waste-not strategy benefits not only large power users (factories and control centers, for example) but also the smallest user, which means you and I. This is because the cost of lost power is built into the cost per kilowatt-hour charged by the utility.
Transphorm’s secret weapon? Gallium nitride, a material that has to be fabricated, making it initially more expensive but consistently more efficient than silicon. It is, according to CEO Umesh Mishra, “a miracle material.”
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Gallium nitride (GaN) is a binary III/V direct bandgap semiconductor commonly used in bright light-emitting diodes since the 1990s. The compound is a very hard material that has a Wurtzite crystal structure. Its wide band gap of 3.4 eV affords it special properties for applications in optoelectronic, high-power and high-frequency devices. For example, GaN is the substrate which makes violet (405 nm) laser diodes possible, without use of nonlinear optical frequency-doubling.
Its sensitivity to ionizing radiation is low (like other group III nitrides), making it a suitable material for solar cell arrays for satellites. Because GaN transistors can operate at much hotter temperatures and work at much higher voltages than gallium arsenide (GaAs) transistors, they make ideal power amplifiers at microwave frequencies.