Gallium Nitride (GaN) compound-semiconductors are taking front and center stage in many electronic and electrical circuits and systems being developed today. Applications for GaN are rapidly expanding in existing electronic market segments and enabling emerging market segments. As GaN moves from “research novelty” to “market reality”, proving the reliability of this technology is critical for realizing military, space, and commercial market applications.
The progress of GaN semiconductor reliability failure modes and models has been led by RF device applications in high power amplifiers used for radar, communication, and industrial metrology sensors. GaN devices for RF applications are poised for explosion in all areas of production. It is anticipated that GaN for power electronics will follow suit, however, these applications are much more stringent and vary greatly from their RF device counterpart.
GaN semiconductor properties and figures-of-merit (FOM) that drive the benefits of their value proposition as power electronic devices are significantly different from RF applications. The degradation of these FOM with age, stress, and environmental application must be measured and understood to enable successful industry adoption.
This presentation will address some of the philosophical and technical complications that challenge consensus on industry guidelines for qualification and reliability-assurance. As demonstrated in the RF GaN device maturation timeline, it is critical to balance both intrinsic reliability and application specific quality assurance testing to obtain a full understanding of the expected power electronic GaN device reliability lifecycle.