AES Semigas


29 April 2021

Cambridge GaN Devices appoints Alain Charles as non-executive board member

Fabless semiconductor company Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) has appointed industry veteran Dr Alain Charles as a non-executive board member. Charles has more than 30 years in the semiconductor industry and has joined to accelerate CGD’s mission to shape a sustainable future for power electronics.

CGD was spun out of the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering’s Electrical Power and Energy Conversion group in 2016 by chief executive officer Dr Giorgia Longobardi and chief technology officer professor Florin Udrea in order to develop power semiconductors using gallium nitride (GaN)-on-silicon substrates. The company’s core business is to design, develop and commercialize power transistors and integrated circuits.

CGD is developing a range of GaN transistors that are customised for key applications in market segments such as consumer and industrial switch-mode power supply (SMPS), lighting, data centers and automotive hybrid electric vehicles (HEV/EV). The firm says that its proprietary ICeGaN technology will allow it to replace silicon in those key applications, while enabling more compact power systems and better use of energy resources.

Following a Ph.D. in 1989 from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) de Toulouse (France) for his work on optical lithography for microelectronics, during 30 years in the semiconductor industry Charles has been involved in most of the key technology changes, ranging from subwavelength pattern printing through larger-wafer (300mm) technology development to power efficiency and the introduction of wide-bandgap semiconductors.

His international career began with driving optical lithography efforts at the Motorola Mesa site in Ariona and later the ST-Microelectronics factory in Carrollton, TX, USA. He later joined the Motorola-Siemens joint venture in Dresden, Germany (pioneering 300mm silicon manufacturing) and was part of the team that produced the first 64Mbit DRAM on 300mm wafers in 1998. He then managed Fab5 and Fab3 engineering teams at silicon foundry Chartered Semiconductor (now Global Foundries) in Singapore. In 2003 he joined International Rectifier’s power device technology development team in Newport, Wales, UK, then headed its silicon technology development team for all discrete power devices from company headquarters in El Segundo, CA, USA. After International Rectifier’s acquisition by Infineon Technologies, he assumed worldwide responsibility for the GaN technology development initiative within the company. In 2021 he created his own power semiconductor-focused consulting company.

Charles will give CGD an independent view on the GaN ecosystem while serving as a strategic advisor on energy-related initiatives, influencing and steering the board direction. He will also support CGD through strategic introductions to influential R&D institutions, partners, industry bodies and policy makers. These connections are expected to help to support CGD’s efforts towards delivering green electronics and reshaping the industry towards more sustainable practices.

“His profound knowledge of the semiconductor industry and renowned expertise will be instrumental in helping CGD in its mission to create green electronics and deliver a more sustainable future in some of the most power-intensive industries,” believes Longobardi.

“The development in the industry that CGD is working on will help to emphasise the key role of GaN-based power electronic to build a more energy efficient world,” comments Charles.

Since CGD’s $9.5m Series A fundraising, Charles is the fourth addition to its board, following Tim Rae, Ed Stacey and Nick Mettyear - partners of venture capital backers BGF, IQ Capital and Foresight Williams - bringing with them deep industrial expertise and their network.

In addition to the multi-million seed fund and Series A private investments, CGD has also secured four projects funded by iUK, BEIS and EU (Penta).

See related items:

Cambridge GaN Devices raises $9.5m Series A funding

CGD leading €10.3m European-funded GaNext project

Cambridge GaN Devices co-founder & CEO named RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year

Tags: GaN power devices