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Vertical GaN Transistor

HRL Laboratories
Low-Cost Gallium Nitride Vertical Transistor
ARPA-E Award: 
Malibu, CA
Project Term: 
03/07/2014 to 04/15/2018
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Power semiconductor devices are critical to America's energy infrastructure-all electronics, from laptops to electric motors, rely on them to control or convert electrical energy in order to operate properly. Unfortunately, the performance and efficiency of today's dominant power semiconductor device material, Silicon, suffer at higher power levels and higher temperature. This results in substantial loss of efficiency across our energy infrastructure. Innovative new semiconductor materials, device architectures, and fabrication processes promise to improve the performance and efficiency of existing electronic devices and to pave the way for next-generation power electronics.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
HRL will develop a high-performance, low-cost, vertical gallium nitride (GaN) transistor that could displace the silicon transistor technologies used in most high-power switching applications today. GaN transistors can operate at higher temperatures, voltages, and currents than their silicon counterparts, but they are expensive to manufacture. HRL will combine innovations in semiconductor material growth, device fabrication, and circuit design to create its high-performance GaN vertical transistor at a competitive manufacturing cost.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, HRL will develop high-performance GaN vertical transistors that cost the same as today's widely used silicon transistors, but experience significantly lower power losses.
Advances in power electronics could facilitate greater adoption of electric vehicles, which in turn could help reduce U.S. oil imports.
More efficient power electronics systems promise reduced electricity consumption, resulting in fewer harmful energy-related emissions.
More efficient power electronics would use less energy, saving American families and business owners money on their power bills.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Isik Kizilyalli
Project Contact: 
Dr. Rongming Chu
Kyma Technologies, Inc.
Malibu IQ
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Release Date: