Are Hybrid FET Future of Power Electronics?


Power electronics, a branch of electrical engineering, plays a pivotal role in our daily lives. It is the technology behind converting and controlling electrical power efficiently and effectively. From the charger that powers your smartphone to the inverter that runs your air conditioner, power electronics is at the heart of these systems, enabling them to operate smoothly and efficiently.

The field of power electronics has seen significant advancements over the years, with researchers continually exploring new components, circuits, and systems to improve the efficiency and performance of power electronic devices. One such noteworthy contribution to this field is the “Editorial Special Issue on Future of Power Electronics: Components, Circuits, and Systems” paper. This paper, published in the IEEE Journal of Emerging and Selected Topics in Power Electronics (JESTPE), provides a comprehensive overview of the recent progress in power electronics and contemplates its future, along with its challenges and potential roadblocks. The insights presented in this paper offer a valuable perspective on the future of power electronics, setting the stage for the discussion that follows in this blog post.

gallium nitride

Overview of the Paper

The “Editorial Special Issue on Future of Power Electronics: Components, Circuits, and Systems” was organized to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the IEEE Journal of Emerging and Selected Topics in Power Electronics (JESTPE). The purpose of this special issue was to provide a platform for researchers and professionals in the field to share their most recent progress and address the toughest challenges in power electronics. It aimed to stimulate discussions on the future of power electronics, its potential roadblocks, and the strategies to overcome them.

The paper highlighted several key points. It acknowledged the rapid advancement of power electronics, reflected in many emerging and re-emerging fields such as wide-bandgap devices, device lifetime and reliability, high-density packaging, half-resonance and multilevel power conversion, machine-drive cooptimization, event-driven ultrafast and robust simulations, wireless power transfer, transportation electrification, structured dc, ac, or hybrid microgrids, electronic power grids, autonomous systems, and artificial-intelligence-enabled power systems.

The paper also emphasized the challenges that lie ahead. These include the need for further research and development in various areas, the importance of addressing device lifetime and reliability issues, and the necessity of exploring new power conversion techniques. The paper underscored the significance of these challenges and called for collective efforts from the research community to address them and shape the future of power electronics.

Key Findings and Sections of the Paper

The special issue is organized into eight sections, each focusing on a different aspect of power electronics. Here’s a brief overview of each section:

  1. Invited Papers: This section features six invited papers that provide an overview of emerging technological trends and current challenges in power electronics. These papers cover a wide range of topics, from the future trends of SiC power devices and the upcoming trends in wireless power transfer to the extension of the discrete-state event-driven simulation technique for megawatt power system simulation and design. Other topics include power supplies for data centers, the recent trend in ultra-high-power-density with Si switching devices, and a tutorial on high-density power module packaging.
  2. Wireless Power Transfer: This section discusses the latest advancements in wireless power transfer, a technology that is predicted to undergo a paradigm shift in the near future.
  3. Reliability and Diagnostics: Papers in this section delve into the issues of device lifetime and reliability, which are critical for the practical application of power electronic devices.
  4. Power Quality and Utility Applications: This section focuses on the role of power electronics in ensuring power quality and its applications in utility systems.
  5. Renewable Energy and Grid Integration: The papers in this section discuss the role of power electronics in renewable energy systems and their integration into the grid.
  6. Discrete and Integrated Semiconductors: This section covers the advancements in semiconductor technologies, which are the building blocks of power electronic devices.
  7. Power Converter Applications: This section discusses the applications of power converters, which are essential for the conversion and control of electrical power.
  8. Control in Power Conversion and Transportation: The final section discusses the role of control systems in power conversion and transportation applications.

Each of these sections provides valuable insights into the current state and future directions of power electronics, highlighting the breadth and depth of research in this field.

Relevant Research Papers

  1. “The Future of Power Electronics Circuits: New Technologies and Managed Complexity Will Drive the Future”: This paper discusses the advancements in power electronics through various innovations, ranging from new and better semiconductors to improved passive components enabled through material science breakthroughs. It also highlights the role of digital control and improved simulation tools in implementing new circuit topologies. This paper complements the main paper by providing a broader perspective on the future of power electronics circuits.
  2. “Future of Power Electronics Circuits”: This paper identifies and addresses important developments of power electronics core technologies. It provides a detailed discussion on the design, manufacturing, and application of power electronic systems. The insights from this paper can provide additional context to the discussions in the main paper, particularly in the areas of power electronics design and manufacturing.
  3. “Applications of Power Electronic Circuits and Systems for Future Grid”: This paper focuses on the applications of power electronic circuits and systems in the future grid. It provides a practical perspective on the use of power electronics, which can supplement the theoretical discussions in the main paper.

Practical Applications

The technologies discussed in the “Editorial Special Issue on Future of Power Electronics: Components, Circuits, and Systems” paper have numerous practical applications that can revolutionize various sectors.

  1. Wide-Bandgap Devices: These devices, including silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), are used in power electronic systems due to their superior characteristics such as high-temperature operation, high-frequency switching, and high-voltage handling capabilities. They are used in electric vehicles, renewable energy systems, and power supplies for data centers.
  2. High-Density Packaging: This technology is crucial for developing compact and efficient power electronic systems. It finds applications in portable electronics, electric vehicles, and aerospace systems where size and weight are critical factors.
  3. Wireless Power Transfer: This technology is transforming the way we charge our devices. From charging pads for smartphones to wireless charging systems for electric vehicles, this technology eliminates the need for cables and connectors, providing a seamless and convenient charging solution.
  4. Transportation Electrification: Power electronics plays a key role in the electrification of transportation. From electric cars to electric trains and planes, power electronic systems are used for energy conversion and control, improving the efficiency and performance of these vehicles.
  5. Artificial-Intelligence-Enabled Power Systems: AI is being used to optimize the operation of power electronic systems, improving their efficiency, reliability, and lifespan. This has applications in smart grids, renewable energy systems, and predictive maintenance of power electronic devices.

These are just a few examples of the practical applications of the technologies discussed in the paper. Each of these applications has the potential to make a significant impact on our daily lives, highlighting the real-world implications of the research in power electronics.

The Hybrid Field-Effect Transistor (HyFET)

The development of the Hybrid Field-Effect Transistor (HyFET) marks a significant milestone in the field of power electronics. The HyFET is an innovative device that combines the strengths of gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors, offering high electron mobility and voltage-blocking capabilities.

The fabrication of the HyFET presented several challenges. One of the major ones was growing a GaN transistor directly on top of an SiC one. This required the development of a technique called “two-step biaxial strain release” to manage the strain created at the boundary where the two dissimilar crystals merge. Despite these challenges, the researchers were successful in fabricating the HyFET, demonstrating the feasibility of integrating two different semiconductors into a single device.

However, the HyFET has its limitations. Its resistance to current flow when the transistor is in the on state (Ron) is quite high, which means lower overall efficiency. While the researchers believe that there are no additional obstacles toward the realization of a lower Ron for a 1200-V HyFET with industrial SiC manufacturing facilities, this remains to be seen in future developments.

As for the commercial prospects of the HyFET, opinions are more circumspect. While the technical achievement of the HyFET has been praised, experts have raised questions about the demand for a commercial Hybrid FET and the costs and complexities associated with manufacturing such a device. These concerns highlight the challenges that often accompany the development and adoption of new technologies.

In conclusion, while the HyFET represents a promising direction for power electronics, its path to commercialization may be complex and will likely require further research and development.

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Challenges and Future Directions

The field of power electronics, while promising, faces several challenges that need to be overcome. These include the need for further advancements in semiconductor technologies, improvements in device lifetime and reliability, and the development of new power conversion techniques. Additionally, the fabrication of hybrid devices like the HyFET presents its own set of challenges, such as managing the strain at the boundary where two dissimilar crystals merge.

Looking ahead, the future of power electronics is likely to be shaped by continued research and development in these areas. The integration of artificial intelligence in power systems, advancements in wireless power transfer technology, and the development of high-density packaging techniques are some of the potential future directions in this field.


In this blog post, we delved into the “Editorial Special Issue on Future of Power Electronics: Components, Circuits, and Systems” paper and discussed its key findings. We also explored relevant research papers, the practical applications of the technologies discussed in the paper, and the development of the Hybrid Field-Effect Transistor (HyFET). We highlighted the challenges faced in the field of power electronics and discussed potential future directions.

The findings from the paper and the discussions in this blog post underscore the significance of power electronics in our daily lives and its potential to revolutionize various sectors. As research and development in this field continue, we can look forward to more efficient and effective power electronic systems that will further enhance our lives.

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Terms Explained

Power Electronics:

Power electronics is a subfield of electrical engineering that deals with the design, control, and conversion of electrical power from one form to another. It involves the use of solid-state electronics, such as transistors and diodes, to control and manipulate high-power electrical energy.

Wide-bandgap Devices:

Wide-bandgap semiconductors are semiconductor materials which have a larger band gap than conventional semiconductors. Conventional semiconductors like silicon have a bandgap in the range of 0.6 – 1.5 electronvolt (eV), whereas wide-bandgap materials have bandgaps in the range above 2 eV.

High-Density Packaging:

High-density packaging refers to the packaging method that can support more weight. Heavier items usually need a plastic bag with a higher density, therefore high-density plastic bags can support weight more than low-density plastic bags.

Half-resonance and Multilevel Power Conversion:

Half-resonance refers to a type of power conversion where the output voltages are regulated by frequency modulation. Multilevel power conversion, on the other hand, is a method of generating high-voltage waveforms from lower-voltage components. It achieves high power ratings and enables the use of renewable energy sources.

Machine-drive Co-optimization:

Machine-drive co-optimization refers to the simultaneous optimization of two or more different, yet related, resources within one optimization formulation. This approach is often used in power system engineering and device technology.

Hybrid Microgrid:

A hybrid microgrid is a localized energy system that operates independently or in conjunction with the main power grid, utilizing a combination of solar energy, energy storage, and other conventional or renewable energy sources.

The Hybrid Field-Effect Transistor (HyFET):

A GaN/SiC hybrid field-effect transistor (HyFET) is proposed as a high-voltage power device that provides a high-mobility lateral AlGaN/GaN channel to reduce the channel resistance and a vertical SiC drift region to sustain the high OFF-state voltage.

Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Silicon Carbide (SiC) Semiconductors:

Gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) are relatively similar in both their bandgap and breakdown field. Gallium nitride has a bandgap of 3.2 eV, while silicon carbide has a bandgap of 3.4 eV. While these values appear similar, they are markedly higher than silicon’s bandgap.

Power electronics is not just a field of study, it’s the driving force behind the technology that powers our world. As we delve into the future of power electronics, let’s remember that every challenge we overcome, every advancement we make, brings us one step closer to a more efficient and sustainable world

Note: images used in this post are not real
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