A binary III/V direct energy gap semiconductor, gallium nitride is the material of choice for blue and violet light-emitting diodes (LEDs). It has very high hardness and the wurtzite crystal structure makes it difficult to cleave or cut, which leads to long lifespans. GaN is also a good material for devices that require very high breakdown voltages, such as power field-effect transistors. Its low sensitivity to radiation makes it suitable for use in military and space applications.
Wide bandgap semiconductors such as GaN can be used to replace silicon-based power transistors because of their higher withstand voltages and much greater levels of resilience to heat. In addition, they are able to deliver the very high break down voltages required for microwave RF power amplifiers.
GaN can be produced on a variety of substrates using metal-organic chemical vapor deposition. However, the process is expensive, and it requires the use of expensive dopants such as magnesium. It is also a challenge to produce P-type gallium nitride, which is needed for devices that require complementary outputs, such as bipolar transistors, and for high-speed CMOS logic.
GaN-based devices have the potential to be used in a range of consumer electronics and industrial applications, as they can operate at higher temperatures and at higher currents than conventional silicon-based semiconductor devices. Additionally, they are much more efficient than silicon-based devices and can be produced at lower cost.