Germany could save 50 gigatonnes of CO2 each year if power were converted more efficiently. What’s more, this can be done using technology in which Germany and Europe are global leaders, with a market share of 40 per cent.
By highlighting this, Dr. Felix J. Grawert, CEO of Aixtron, started his speech on the next generation of technology with a bang. According to Grawert, the problem is “connection losses during power conversion”. For example, the switching losses that occur when power is transported from a solar panel to the end device add up to as much as a quarter of the total output. If this power were converted more efficiently, it would be possible (at least theoretically) to achieve the CO2 savings postulated above. The solution? Compound semiconductors made from gallium nitrate and silicon carbide. In certain applications, these compound semiconductors are increasingly replacing silicon as we know it from the chip industry in particular.
The possibilities are endless: Car batteries with greater battery range and shorter charging times. More energy-efficient air conditioning units and data centres. New smartphone displays. Computer vision. Medical technology. Sensor technology. Plus, more rapid communication between microchips and communication networks such as G5 or G6 (already in development). After all, what is the use of ever-faster silicon chips if the information they process cannot be transmitted just as quickly? State-of-the-art applications make this possible. Yet the competition never sleeps. Taiwan has declared compound semiconductors to be a technology of national importance, while China has listed them as a target in its strategic five-year plan. Grawert is convinced that Europe can maintain and further expand its world-leading position in this field. With all this in mind, the prospects for digitalisation are not that bad after all.