Gallium nitride could enable the continuation of Moore’s law

A tiny phone, tablet and laptop charger, the first to use gallium nitride rather than silicon chips, has seen sales four times greater than predicted, prompting the Chinese company behind it to try to ramp up production. Anker, a Shenzhen-based company that specialises in computer and mobile phone accessories, unveiled a line of chargers using gallium nitride (GaN), which conducts electrons 1,000 times faster than silicon, in January. The use of GaN allowed Anker to virtually halve the size of its charger, while retaining full-speed charging. Another Chinese-owned company, RAVPower, has also starting using GaN in its chargers… The introduction of the new semiconductor into the consumer market came after a series of military and other commercial applications, in everything from electric vehicles to radar systems. Raytheon, the US defence group, said in 2017 that it had spent $300 million researching GaN since 1999… While GaN has been around since the 1960s, initial uses were restricted to LEDs and Blu-ray discs. Beyond power, researchers are also looking at the use of GaN in logic gates, the brains of the computer, a development that could enable the continuation of Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years.
 
Louise Lucas

 

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