How Space technology Benefits from WBG Semiconductors

WBG semiconductors have gained impetus amongst the space-based application due to their unique property set.

FREMONT, CA: The search for more-efficient electronics is focused on power devices, and semiconductor materials are at the center of the R&D activities. However, silicon is gradually losing its dominance in power devices to the wide-bandgap family of semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). WBG’s unique physical and electrical properties make them apt for meeting the performance demands of high-frequency applications. WBG materials can manage high power levels, withstand radiation, and function under high-temperature resulting in high switching frequencies, low power losses, and low noise. These characteristics of WBG semiconductors have drawn the attention of the space researchers.

WBG semiconductor is the key to the development of next-generation space-borne systems. For instance, GaN, in its enhance-mode version, is widely used in the development of HEMTs and FETs for space applications. The space environment can negatively influence the overall behavior of a system’s operation. The effects of radiation can result in interruptions, degradation, and discontinuities in the performance of devices. These challenges can be countered with the help of WBG semiconductors.

When spacecraft and other space-oriented devices are considered, reduced weight and size become crucial. GaN power devices offer the highest level of efficiency in this regard. Gallium arsenide also offers excellent characteristics when it comes to electromagnetic compatibility (EMI). Devices used in critical applications like high altitude flights, space missions, or strategic military systems must be resistant to malfunctions and failures caused by ionizing radiation. In this respect, GaN powered devices are outperforming silicon-based semiconductors by offering higher performance. Further, the higher electron mobility of GaN and SiC semiconductors compared to silicon-enabled devices allow operations at high switching frequencies, which is marked with performance efficiency.

Space-based applications thrive on their components’ ability to perform without malfunctioning, and WBG semiconductors have emerged as the perfect match.

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