Gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor devices are usually associated with high-power transistors for microwave amplifiers. The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has certainly invested heavily enough in GaN technology to interest several large foundries and many more device suppliers to push the development of high-voltage GaN power transistors for a number of military and aerospace applications. While the number of applications for GaN power transistors is still small, it is growing, as are the number of available RF/microwave amplifiers based on the technology.
Yet, according to a recent report from market research firm iSuppli Corp., there may be even more growth potential for GaN technology in commercial applications, notably in power-management applications. The firm is projecting the GaN power-management market to reach over $183 million by 2013, from a starting point of almost zero this year. That growth is made possible by increasing sales in notebook computers and mobile handsets and the need for energy efficiency when running on batteries. As more applications are found for GaN devices, and production volumes rise, the price per unit it expected to drop dramatically in the coming years, which will be good news for all GaN users.