Tech InDepth: Understanding GaN chargers and their advantages

When looking for a new phone, the specifications are a top priority for most customers. However, there’s one aspect of phones that is perhaps not considered so much. That’s the charger. No, I don’t mean the charging speed of your phone, but the actual charging brick. A new wave of chargers is set to hit the mainstream market soon called GaN chargers, which stands for Gallium Nitride chargers. These are smaller, more efficient and while they’re already being used with many devices, they could soon be the future of all chargers. Here’s all you need to know about GaN chargers.

What is Gallium Nitride?

Gallium Nitride is a material that is considered a better alternative to silicon, which is usually used to transfer power to your device in most chargers. Gallium Nitride is much better at conducting high voltage over longer times compared to silicon. It also allows electrical currents to travel faster through it.

This makes Gallium Nitride a more efficient solution to materials used in chargers, while being a faster solution as well. Thanks to the higher conductivity rate, Gallium Nitride needs less energy than silicone to generate the same output. Less energy also translates to lower heat.

With lower heat, Gallium Nitride structures can be stacked closer to each other than other materials, which also means the overall structure (the charger) is smaller in size.

GaN Chargers

GaN chargers are more compact and better at charging your devices. These can charge supported laptops and smartphones not just more efficiently but faster as well. The smaller size allows for more use cases. For instance, some companies make GaN charger which are regular sized but offer things like multiple output ports, or support for various kinds of electrical sockets.

In theory, Gallium Nitride chargers also help you get a lower electricity bill, although for devices like smartphones and chargers, this difference will be too small to notice for many. You can buy Gallium Nitride chargers from third-party brands, or even check what charger you get with your phone or laptop. If it is a newer, premium gadget, chances are the bundled charger itself is a GaN unit.

So, why isn’t every charger a GaN charger?

GaN is not a common piece of technology just yet, and one factor here is the cost. GaN semiconductors generally cost more than silicon semiconductors. This is one of the main reasons all chargers are not using GaN yet. When the technology becomes more widely used, which could be the case in the near future, given the benefits, GaN chargers could become much cheaper to mass produce due to companies investing in the initial manufacturing costs.

Moreover, just like chargers today are little computers with a circuit in their own right, computers can also be theoretically powered by Gallium Nitride semiconductors. Although this possibility is still far away.

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