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First satellite single-stage DC-DC uses GaN tech

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CAES' GaN-based single-stage, isolated DC-DC power converter increases power efficiency to over 90 percent

CAES, a US provider of electronics for aerospace and defence, has introduced the industry’s first single-stage, isolated DC-DC converters for high throughput satellite payloads. The new GaN-based devices are said to provide spacecraft designers with the industry’s most efficient power conversion modules for enabling reprogrammable, software-defined payloads.

Compared to conventional two-stage DC-DC converters, the CAES single-stage converters increase power efficiency from approximately 80 percent to more than 90 percent while simultaneously reducing size, weight and power requirements in space applications.

The 28V radiation-tolerant converters are also the first satellite single-stage power supplies to incorporate GAN FET technology. The move to GaN enables higher performance and switching frequencies, thereby improving response time to changing load currents compared to silicon-based DC-DC converters. These new converters can also be used in parallel for higher-power applications.

“Two-stage power switches require two converters, making them bigger and more expensive. They are also inherently lower performing in that their power efficiency degrades with each conversion stage,” said Mike Elias, senior VP and general manager, Space Systems Division, CAES. “Our single-stage converters deliver the industry’s most efficient bus-to-load output while opening the door further for GaN in space applications.”

By converting power straight from the power bus to the point of load, the new single-stage converters operate easily within the increasingly stringent voltage tolerances of today’s leading-edge processing devices. This includes deep-submicron ASICs and FPGAs used in software-defined payloads that can be reprogrammed in-orbit to extend the mission life of space applications.

The new CAES converters comply with US Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations (EAR99) and are commercially available worldwide.

Designed for aerospace and high-reliability space applications, the new 28V SCD51028xx converters have a total dose radiation tolerance of 50krads (Si) and are available in a (2.5L x 1.5W x 0.63H inch) gull-winged power package that enables surface-mount installation and a low-impedance interconnect with the system board. The converters feature a lightweight 50g design and an operating temperature of -40ºC to +125ºC.

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