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Si? No Thanks! GaN? Yes Please!

Although it’s small and light, my new GaN-based wall wart power supply charges my Eggtronic power bank in half the time it was taking using my existing wall warts.

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It’s funny how one thing leads to another. For example, about six weeks ago as I pen these words, I posted my Eggtronic Laptop Power Bank is a Jolly Good Egg blog. As I noted in that column, I was left a little underwhelmed with my early power bank experiences, but my Eggtronic has made me into a true believer. With its 20,000 mAh capacity and 63 W capability, this bodacious beauty boasts three output ports that can charge three devices simultaneously: a 45 W USB Type-C Power Delivery port, a USB-A 3.x Quick Charge port, and a USB-A 2.x standard 2.1 A port. I now keep my Eggtronic sitting on the side table next to my command chair in the family room at home. When I return from work, I can set my iPhone to charging within arm’s reach. Similarly, if my iPad Pro needs topping up at any time, my trusty Eggtronic is ready and willing to leap into action. Of course, I still have to charge the Eggtronic itself. For this purpose, I initially started out using an existing 5.0V x 2.4A = 12W wall wart that I acquired somewhere along the way. Using this to charge the Eggtronic seemed to take an interminable amount of time, so I had a quick Google and invested in a pair of 1-Port 18-watt Wall Chargers for $15.49 on Amazon Prime. Sad to relate, I really didn’t notice any difference (because there wasn’t any, as we will see in a moment). On the one hand, none of this was too big a deal when recharging the Eggtronic at home. On the other hand, when I eventually get out on the road in the lull between the current worldwide pandemic and the next one, the faster something charges, the happier I’ll be, so I started looking around for something with a tad more “Oomph,” as it were. These days, even the hoi polloi may be heard talking about “silicon chips” in casual conversation. Fewer people, however, are familiar with the use of gallium nitride (GaN) as a binary III/V direct bandgap semiconductor. Quite apart from anything else, GaN has a Wurtzite crystal structure, which is a fun fact to drop into any conversation. GaN is a very hard, mechanically stable, semiconductor material with high heat capacity and high thermal conductivity. GaN’s wide band gap affords it special properties that make it particularly suitable for use in optoelectronic, high-power, and high-frequency applications. All of which brings us to the folks at Navitas and their GaNFast Technology. According to their website, “GaNFast Power ICs enable power systems to run up to 100x faster than traditional silicon while delivering 3x higher power density, 40% greater energy savings, and 20% lower system costs.” In my case, I was interested in their GaNFast-based chargers, whose boast is to be able to charge your mobile devices — phones, tablets, and laptops — 3X faster while being only half the size and weight as their regular counterparts. Here’s a handy-dandy webpage that summarizes all of GaN chargers powered by GaNFast technology, providing details as to the model, power, numbers/types of outputs, size, and weight, along with links to reviews and places where you can splash the cash to obtain these little rascals.
Baseus 65W Fast Portable 3-Port Charger (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: Navitas)
In my case, I opted to try a Baseus 65W Fast Portable 3 Port Charger, which — as I pen these words — is available for $26.59 on Amazon Prime. Sad to relate, I haven’t had the time to perform extensive tests on this charger, which isn’t to say I haven’t performed any tests at all. Using my original 12W charger, I charged my Eggtronic from 10% to 67% in 241 minutes, which gives a value of 4.228 minutes for each 1% charge, which extrapolates to 7 hours to charge from 0% to 100%. Of course, all of these calculations assume a linear charge rate, which would be surprising if true. In the case of my 18W device, I charged the Eggtronic from 10% to 72% in 277 minutes, which gives a value of 4.467 minutes for each 1% charge, which extrapolates to 7.5 hours to charge from 0% to 100%. This was a bit of a surprise, and a little tear rolled down my cheek at the thought of the money I’d wasted, but at least it explained why I wasn’t noticing any advantage over my 12W device. Finally, I used my new GaN-based 65W device. In this case, I charged the Eggtronic from 10% to 86% in 138 minutes, which gives a value of 1.815 minutes for each 1% charge, which extrapolates to 3.0 hours to charge from 0% to 100%. Now, that’s what I’m talking about — this calculation certainly brought a little smile to my face. So, that’s the current state of play, but keep on watching this space because I will doubtless have more tidbits of trivia and nuggets of knowledge to report in the not-so-distant future.

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Rick Curl

Several years back when I realized Gallium Nitride had the potential to revolutionize the semiconductor industry I did some research and found that there was only one Gallium mine in the United states, so I bought stock in it. I waited for the dollars to roll in, but it didn’t happen. The mine seemed to be struggling to stay in business even though Gallium Nitride semiconductors were gaining popularity. It was only then that I discovered (much to my chagrin) that Gallium is a by-product of aluminum production. Until it gained popularity as a semiconductor material it was almost considered a waste material.
Looks like I did a poor job of researching Gallium before my stock purchase.

Maybe next time…..

David Ashton

Rick – you could go into business making disappearing spoons – the book of the same title reveals that due to Gallium’s low melting point it is a favourite for making prank spoons that melt in cups of tea. The book is well worth a read for many other nuggets of wisdom it contains.

Last edited 10 days ago by David Ashton
Rick Curl

Interesting you would mention that. Max gave me his copy after he finished reading it. It reveals lots of intrigue and nefarious goings-on that I never knew about- all related to the periodic table of the elements.
After I finished it I was going to pass it on to a friend but my wife Cynthia says she wants to read it first.

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