Gallium Oxide: Power Electronics’ Cool New Flavor

With improved heat conductivity, this semiconductor could leapfrog other challengers to silicon

3 min read
Gallium Oxide: Power Electronics’ Cool New Flavor
Source: Yole Développement, Lyon, France
Source: Yole Développement, Lyon, France
Semiconductors in Comparison: Flosfia’s gallium oxide devices exploit the material’s big bandgap and breakdown field while making up for its poor thermal conductivity. (Values are normalized to silicon’s [blue].)

Ideally, the electronic components that route electricitythroughpower supplies, inverters, and electric motors are cheap, efficient, and capable of handling high voltages. Judged in these terms, gallium oxide could be the best material yet, according to recent work by ­Flosfia, a startup in Kyoto.

That’s because silicon—the incumbent material for making diodes and transistors for the power electronics market—is cheap but not very efficient. And although this weakness is addressed by devices made from silicon carbide and gallium nitride, both have had limited commercial success due to high prices. Flosfia’s diodes are already performing more efficiently than those made from SiC and GaN.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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