Standards is a series explaining various technological protocols, examining their practical implementation and where we might find them in the devices around us.
Fast charging has been one of the most useful features of smartphones over the past couple of years. Some companies have developed their own charging standards, and because of this, the charging bricks supplied by these manufacturers often get bulky.
To solve this problem, accessory manufacturers are using a new material called gallium nitride (GaN) instead of silicon. In this article, we’ll see how this new material will transform our charging solutions and make our gadgets even more easily portable.
What is GaN?
To quickly charge your phone battery, most fast charging methods increase the current or voltage. The idea is to send more energy to the battery to recharge it in less time.
However, in doing so, the charger’s components – many of which contain silicon – heat up and limit its ability to use it safely. Gallium nitride is an alternative semiconductor material that could be used in place of silicon.
GaN’s band gap (3.4 eV) is larger than silicon (1.1 eV). This means that GaN could run at higher voltages and produce less heat.
What is the advantage of using GaN?
The main advantage of using GaN is that it produces less heat than silicon. Because of this, the components don’t need too much “breathing space” and you can pack more in a smaller space.
This means that you can include the same amount of power as a silicon charger in almost half the size using GaN. This allows you to make smaller filler bricks or include more ports in the same size brick.
You can read more about gallium nitride and its use in electronics in this video:
The material can also withstand higher voltages, which means GaN chargers can output more power than silicon-based chargers of the same size.
GaN also offers better charging efficiency – but only by a few percentage points.
Is GaN widely used?
GaN chargers aren’t quite new. Anker published one in 2018. However, distribution has been limited due to the price difference between silicon chargers and more expensive GaN alternatives.
Steven Yang, CEO of Anker, said 20% of chargers last sold year were GaN models. However, the company noted that every year, almost 4 billion chargers are sold worldwide – and currently, GaN represents only 1% of that. Xiaomi last month became one of the first companies to include a GaN charger in the Mi 11’s global retail box.
Vinson Leow, co-founder of charging solutions company ChargeAsap, said that a few years ago, Navitas was the only place to acquire GaN components, but now Chinese players such as Innoscience and Power Integrations are manufacturing these. items at a cheaper rate.
What is the future and why should you care?
Apple and Samsung have already started removing the charging bricks from their shipping boxes. And other smartphone makers could follow suit. There’s a chance we’ll reach a point where device makers won’t give you a power supply at all.
So it’s best to invest in a compact charging washer with multiple ports, and GaN chargers are best suited for this.
Anker says it will take five years for GaN load shipping to reach between 10% and 20% of the overall volume of chargers sold. Leow says GaN chargers will cost as much as silicon chargers in the next 2-3 years.
Yang also noted that many customers do not know what a GaN charger is; they just want something to charge their phones. Manufacturers will therefore need to educate customers about the benefits of GaN devices before they start buying them in larger numbers.
Where can you get a GaN charger?
Many companies, including Belkin, Anker, and Chargeasap, produce GaN chargers. Currently, you will find that GaN chargers can be 30-60% more expensive than silicon chargers, depending on the power and number of ports. However, most GaN chargers will save you a lot of space in your bag.
The only time you could get a GaN charger easily is if you are using a phone with a proprietary fast charging standard, such as those from Oppo, Vivo, or OnePlus.
There is no fixed method for choosing the best GaN charger apart from reading the review, but you should choose one that meets UL 60950, which limits the charger’s operating temperature to less than 77 degrees Celsius, thus avoiding overheating.
This means that the charger complies with the latest safety standards and is said to be more energy efficient. Amazon has a ton of options from companies like Anker and Aukey, go get one.
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Published March 17, 2021 – 12:48 UTC