8 March 2011

UCSB spin-off Transphorm unveils first product

At the Applied Power Electronics Conference & Exposition (APEC 2011) in Fort Worth, TX (6–10 March), Transphorm Inc of Goleta, CA, near Santa Barbara, CA, USA has announced the availability of samples of its first product: power diodes based on its patented EZ-GaN gallium nitride technology.

The launch comes just two weeks after the firm emerged from stealth mode at an event on 23 February at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View in Silicon Valley. Backed by $38m in funding from Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital and Lux Capital, Transphorm was co-founded in 2007 by CEO Umesh Mishra, a professor of electrical & computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), together with his former student Primit Parikh as president. The firm has 75 employees, including a core staff of researchers from Mishra’s lab at UCSB.

Existing silicon-based power converters can be up to 90% efficient, so 10% of energy is lost (e.g. as waste heat). Transphorm says that the hundreds of terawatts of lost energy across the US electrical grid is equivalent to 318 coal-fired power plants and costs the US economy $40bn annually. The firm says that it can provide a viable solution to inefficient power conversion by commercializing a high-voltage normally-off GaN solution. It reckons that its power modules can eliminate much of the losses (boosting efficiency into the upper 90% range).

Also, Transphorm claims that its custom-designed power modules are easy to embed in electrical systems, simplifying the design and manufacturing of electrical systems and devices from consumer electronics products to computer servers, HVAC equipment, industrial motor drives, and inverters for solar panels and electric vehicles. As a vertically integrated company, the firm aims to design and supply application-specific modules to power equipment manufacturers. “For customers looking for a low-risk roadmap to the next generation of power conversion technology, Transphorm provides a cost-effective, customizable and easy-to-use solution ready for commercial scale,” says CEO Umesh Mishra.

Transphorm claims that its efficient, compact, and easy-to-embed solutions can cut energy waste by 20%. To demonstrate the performance of its GaN-based technology, at the APEC exhibition the firm is showcasing a Total GaN-based, dc-to-dc Boost Converter running at more than 99% efficiency.

Transphorm claims that, by using its proprietary EZ-GaN platform, it can reduce power system size and increase energy density while reducing overall system cost. The design uses fewer components, minimizes snubbers and filters, simplifies module packaging, and enables high-frequency design by reducing transients.

The firm’s GaN-based power converters are designed with 600V transistors and low-loss power diodes, making them the industry’s fastest and most efficient conversion technology, it is claimed. They come in industry-standard packages and are designed for optimum high-frequency switching, lowest loss and highest efficiency.

“It is critical to realize high performance under high-voltage switching operation that is required in real applications,” says president Primit Parikh. “Transphorm’s Total GaN-based Boost Converter operating at over 99% efficiency at 400V demonstrates this for the first time.”

See related items:

Transphorm emerges from stealth mode prior to launching GaN power modules

Tags: GaN power modules GaN

Visit: www.transphormusa.com

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