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Wireless Charging
GaN and SiC technology in action

Wireless Charging

Overview

Wireless charging, more generally referred to as wireless power transfer or wireless energy transmission, is on its way to becoming mainstream. Wireless charging eliminates the “battery anxiety” of the users of electronic devices by providing a convenient and automatic way of charging. In the near future wireless charging will not only enable consumers to charge their phones wherever they go but will also enable drones, robots and cars to automatically dock to charging stations.

The Need for Standards

In order for wireless charging to gain wide market adoption, standards are needed to ensure safety and compatibility. There are currently two major standards for wireless charging:
Technology
Low Frequency (Qi)
High Frequency (Magnetic Resonance)
Frequency range
80-300 kHz
6.78 MHz / 13.56 MHz
Max transfer range
5mm
200mm+
Multi-device charging
No
Yes, at different power levels
Spatial Freedom
Low
High
Power Range
Low & limited, 30W max
Broad & versatile, 20W to 20kW+
Efficiency
Limited to 80%
High: up to 95%

Standard Wireless Power Technologies: Inductive vs. Resonant

Just what do we mean by “inductive” and “resonant” technologies? Here are the main differences between the two.

Inductive technology, which is a closely coupled solution, is the type of compliance used by Qi. This technology transfers power using low-frequency resonant tanks (100-205kHz) over very short distances (mostly anything under 10mm).

In 2009, the first standard for Qi had a 5W power requirement (“Low Power”). In 2015, that was increased to 15W capability (“Medium Power”). This year, Qi is hoping for over 100W (“High Power”). Those are currently in testing and should be rolled out later this year.

The other wireless power technology, resonant, is considered a loosely coupled solution. Primarily championed by the AirFuel Alliance, this technology uses a high-frequency resonant tank (6.78MHz) to transmit power over long distances (multitudes of feet). Resonant technology offers the ability to charge multiple devices at the same time, with a capability of up to 22W for upcoming systems. There are also up to 20kW magnetic resonance techonogies enabled by companies such as WiTricity in the USA.

Challenges of Today’s Technology

Developing wireless charging product that offers great user experience has its challenges. Take the recent news from Apple announcing the cancellation of its AirPower wireless charging product, which had been in the works for more than eighteen months. The product was canceled due to the complexity of offering spatial freedom while charging multiple devices at the same time. Clearily the current Qi inductive technology adapted by major cellphone companies are not enough to cover the following challenges.

Reference Designs

GaN Systems Reference Designs

About GaN Systems

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GaN Systems is a fabless semiconductor company that is focused on gallium nitride technology for power conversion and control applications. The company has developed a complete range of gallium nitride power switching transistors for a wide variety of markets. Its unique Island Technology addresses today’s challenges of cost, performance, and manufacturability, resulting in devices that are smaller and more efficient than other GaN design approaches.

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Our team of global applications engineers are available to answer your questions to ensure your power conversion or energy storage system design meets your performance expectations. If you’re transitioning from silicon to gallium nitride (GaN) or silicon carbide (SiC), we’ll help identify the right switching device to achieve the power density and increased efficiency your application requires.