A Star is Born: Gallium nitride and the coming age of compound semiconductors
Not so long ago, Blu-ray was hailed as a technological advancement in the world of digital video. But in the streaming era, Blu-ray’s luster has faded. However, the technology responsible for the blue laser diode that gave the Blu-ray player its name – gallium nitride (GaN) – is emerging as one of a number of exciting new developments in the semiconductor industry.
Today, GaN is used by the military for radar systems, consumer and automotive electronics as a super-fast power charger and the telecommunications industry in base stations and data servers. GaN offers several advantages over silicon. For starters, GaN offers a significant increase in electron mobility over silicon – 1,000 times more electron mobility, according to various articles – a benefit that leads to other advantages. In addition, GaN is resistant to heat, consumes less energy than other semiconductors, operates at a lower voltage, enables increased miniaturization, offers wider bandwidth and allows for increased electron mobility.