If you haven’t yet heard about gallium nitride (GaN) charging technology, you soon will. The secret behind a new generation of smaller yet more efficient chargers and power bricks, GaN technology is the obvious successor to today’s ubiquitous silicon chargers, and for good reason.
What is GaN technology?
GaN is a material that was initially used to manufacture certain types of LEDs and LED screens in the early 1990s. Back then, GaN technology was also used to develop a type of blue laser that was used in certain media consoles. If you’ve ever wondered where the “blu” in Blu-ray comes from, it’s GaN that gives the blue light its namesake hue.
However, not only was GaN a core ingredient for blue lasers and LEDs, but it also turned out to be a powerful semiconductor, one that rivals and surpasses our current gold standard for chargers and power bricks: silicon.
Why is GaN better than silicon?
All materials have a “band gap,” which refers to how well they can conduct electricity. The inherent properties of silicon determine the ceiling as far as heat and electrical transfer are concerned. Those same properties mean the components can’t really get any smaller or more efficient. GaN, on the other hand, has a wider band gap than silicon, which means it can conduct higher voltages than silicon and the current can run through GaN-based devices faster and with less energy lost to heat.
How is a GaN charger different than a silicon charger?
Because GaN chargers are more efficient, lose less energy during transfer, and require fewer components to operate than our current silicon-based chargers, they are dramatically smaller. Consider, for example, this Mighty Mini 20W Charger from Xcellon. This charger is about the same size as Apple’s standard 5W silicon charger, but because it uses GaN technology, it can output four times as much energy. There’s even a Mighty Mini 30W that has the same footprint as the conventional Apple charger yet delivers six times as much power!
That power efficiency isn’t capped by size, either. Take the Mighty Mini 100W Charger, for example. Despite its relatively small footprint, this GaN-powered charger can supply 100W of power to up to four devices, including smartphones, tablets, and handheld gaming devices.
Application of GaN technology isn’t limited to mobile devices or smaller batteries, either. Larger, more power-hungry devices that support USB-C charging are also compatible with GaN chargers. For example, both the Canon EOS R5 and the Sony Alpha a7S III can be quickly charged with a high-powered GaN charger such as the Mighty Mini 120.
Is GaN the future?
With their incredible power efficiency and minimal footprint, it’s hard to imagine a future where GaN chargers aren’t the everyday standard. After all, who doesn’t want a charger that’s smaller, faster, more powerful, and is compatible with a wide range of devices, from smaller consumer tech to big-battery electronics and professional gear? In a world ruled by power-hungry devices, GaN-based chargers seem like the inevitable (and sensible) outcome.
What are your thoughts on GaN technology? Have you already made the switch to GaN chargers? Let us know in the Comments section, below!