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New semiconductor chip is coming out, which can reduce AC LED prices

release time:2019-12-17publisher:

LED lighting is constantly evolving everywhere, homes, streets, factory halls and offices. LED lamps are energy-saving, have a longer service life, and are more beneficial to the environment. But LED lighting is still more expensive than traditional energy-saving lamps. This is because LED lighting requires additional power electronics to regulate the voltage of the LED.

When current flows from the socket to the LED bulb, the voltage must become 12 volts. Up to 60% of the cost of LED bulbs comes from power electronics used to reduce voltage and convert current from AC to DC.

But now, a research group at Pennsylvania State University has shown how to remove most cost-effective power electronics by converting semiconductor materials from silicon to gallium nitride, thereby completely avoiding the conversion from AC to DC.

By integrating the LED driver directly on the GaN chip, production and maintenance costs can be significantly reduced.

Today, power electronics have three main tasks: first, converting AC to DC, partly to ensure a stable, uniform voltage, and partly to reduce the voltage to an LED-friendly level of about 12 volts. The new gallium nitride chip ensures voltage balance in AC current instead of full conversion to DC, while using LED drivers to reduce the voltage to 12 volts. Researchers think this is feasible because the device is built as a matrix of decreasing voltage.

Low brightness quality fluctuation

Although the technology is in place, new GaN chips are not ready for consumers. By using white LED lights with a new prototype chip, researchers have been able to produce 89 lumens of LED lights, which are slightly lower than usual LED bulbs. Since the chip only corrects AC voltage instead of fully converting to DC, the quality of light also fluctuates because it is not yet possible to achieve a completely stable voltage.

LED, etc.

As a result, the researchers behind the new research say that new semiconductor chips may initially be best suited for outdoor lighting, where low cost is more important than lighting quality.

Many people think that gallium nitride is one of two new semiconductor materials that will take over the dominance of silicon. One of them is silicon carbide (SiC), and in particular it is expected to benefit from electric cars and other large electronics, while gallium nitride is designed to play a larger role in smaller electronics such as LED lighting .

The difference between the two semiconductor materials is the more efficient conversion of energy. "GaN is a relatively new material, and the technology has only recently matured, so integration on a single chip is also a very new idea," said the IEEE Spectrum chip team.

Gallium nitride

It is precisely because new semiconductor materials are relatively untested that raw material production is also unstable and still slightly more expensive than silicon, which has led many electronics manufacturers (such as car manufacturers) to stop replacing semiconductor materials. Tesla is one of the only companies in the automotive industry to use Sic modules in the power electronics field.

Problems caused by etching

For gallium nitride, the challenge so far has been either to require specialized LED structures to use this material, or that manufacturers have to invest themselves in very expensive production methods. Therefore, this is also the method by which Pennsylvania scientists have stirred to make gallium nitride chips.

Semiconductor shi'ke

But American scientists should now develop an economically viable approach. To make chips with silicon, wet chemical etching is currently used to remove material from semiconductor materials, such as with hydrofluoric acid. But gallium nitride is an extremely hard material, so wet etching does not get the best results on new semiconductor materials.

In contrast, plasma etching has been tried, which is a dry method, but researchers have encountered problems. Because this process was found to leave defects on the semiconductor surface. Although plasma etching can be used for basic etching, wet etching has been able to eliminate defects that dry plasma etching cannot handle.