17 May 2011

Transphorm unveils GaN transistor at PCIM Europe 

At this week’s PCIM Europe 2011 conference in Nuremberg, Germany (17–19 May), Transphorm Inc of Goleta, CA, near Santa Barbara, CA, USA is unveiling its EZ-GaN transistor, the latest in its line of products designed to eliminate the power waste that occurs during power conversion in everyday electrical systems and devices.

Transphorm claims to be the first firm to provide a viable solution to the power conversion problem. Its gallium nitride (GaN) products are designed to replace legacy silicon-based power conversion technology, which can no longer provide efficiency gains without compromising system performance, the firm says, adding that it is redefining electric power conversion to help customers optimize their use of existing electrical generation.

Transphorm says that its 600V transistor can replace silicon-based super junction transistors and IGBT devices in switch-mode power conversion circuits, such as bridge converters and inverters, in order to reduce switching losses by up to 95%. The release of the transistor follows the EZ-GaN diode launched in March.

That 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.

“This is the first 600V GaN HEMT device to survive accelerated life testing per JEDEC industry standards, which Transphorm has demonstrated in engineering tests,” says CEO Umesh Mishra. “Our transistor has proved that it is possible to switch extremely fast without increasing electromagnetic interference (EMI), a feat never before achieved and most believed to be infeasible,” he claims.

Transphorm has developed and supplied efficient, compact GaN solutions for electrical energy conversion. The transistor is the latest product that offering opportunities to reduce the size of systems while improving and maintaining efficiency, which is no longer possible with silicon-based conversion devices, the firm claims. For example, a unique aspect of the transistor is its improved packaging, which reduces ringing that results in equal or lower EMI.

“Our competitors are using silicon devices, which have up to 25 times as much switching losses compared to our transistor,” says president Primit Parikh. “Customers are already using the transistor in products such as power suppliers, PV inverters and motor control systems,” he adds. 

By using a proprietary EZ-GaN transistor and diode, Transphorm says that it can reduce power system size and increase energy density while reducing overall system cost. The EZ-GaN transistor is the latest product aimed to achieve new levels of product performance in semiconductor devices operating at 600V or above. Transphorm designs and supplies application-specific modules for a variety of customers, and plans to launch new products on a quarterly basis.

Transphorm acknowledges the US Office of Naval Research for the initial and sustained funding of all aspects of its GaN technology, including materials, RF transistors and power transistors. It also acknowledges funding from DARPA and the support of ARPA-E in the development of high-frequency, compact and efficient GaN-based inverters that it reckons will revolutionize motor drives in the future while also helping to provide near-term solutions.

See related items:

UCSB spin-off Transphorm unveils first product

Transphorm emerges from stealth mode prior to launching GaN power modules

Tags: GaN power modules GaN

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