Advanced Wide Bandgap Technology Pivotal to Solar Racing Team’s Hopes of Success

21 October 2023

Power Integrations has been providing support to Team aCentauri, which is comprised of students from ETH University in Zurich. The company has supplied the team with its PowiGaN gallium-nitride (GaN) switch devices, plus engineering support and sponsorship funds that will help it to compete in this year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (which commences on the 22nd October).

This punishing 3,000km long race, which traverses the whole length of Australia (from Darwin to Adelaide) showcases innovative photovoltaic-powered vehicles. Participating teams need to push the boundaries in terms of aerodynamic design and powertrain implementation. The race car's bodywork is based on carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) and glass-fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) materials. This results in it being sufficiently lightweight, but still retaining dimensional stability. The top surface of the chassis is covered in a total of 4m2 of high-efficiency single crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels for generating the power needed to propel it. Speeds of up to 75km/hr can be reached.

“After studying Power Integrations’ extensive list of reference designs, Team aCentauri asked us to help them design a power converter based on the 750V, InnoSwitch 3-EP with PowiGaN technology,” notes Trevor Hiatt, Power Integrations’ Director of Marketing. “With our IC and expert design support, the team not only boosted energy efficiency to 95.75% while the system operates at maximum power, but also improved efficiency by more than 50% while the system drives light loads - which is most of the time.” 

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