The transistors used in vehicle power electronics are conventionally made of silicon. But GaN Systems Inc. of Ottawa is moving forward with transistors made from a hard crystal known as gallium nitride, or GaN, created by combining gallium with nitrogen.

GaN Systems believes the material change will allow for smaller, more efficient and less expensive power electronics, resulting in smaller, lighter batteries for electric vehicles with improved charging performance and longer range for vehicles. .

BMW AG and other car and parts manufacturers are interested.

Last month, the luxury automaker signed an agreement with GaN Systems to potentially supply power transistors for its on-board electric motors and chargers. The innovation could help BMW produce electric vehicles with higher power density, faster charging capabilities and longer range. The material could also advance capabilities in autonomous driving and wireless power applications.

For the past 13 years, GaN Systems has primarily supplied its gallium nitride based transistors to the consumer electronics and data center industries. But he’s now following the money and changing direction as the electrifying auto industry searches for transistors for a new generation of power systems.

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