Transphorm introduces Gallium Nitride diode; >99% efficient DC-DC boost converter
7 March 2011
At the Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC), Transphorm Inc. announced the availability of its first product: power diodes based on its patented, high-performance EZ GaN (gallium nitride) technology. Transphorm says that its solutions cut energy waste by 20% and simplify the design and manufacturing of a wide variety of electrical systems and devices, including motor drives, power supplies and inverters for solar panels and electric vehicles.
At APEC, startup Transphorm Inc. is showcasing a GaN-based, dc-to-dc boost converter running at more than 99% efficiency.
Energy loss that occurs during power conversion is equivalent to the daily output of 318 coal plants, and costs the US economy $40 billion per year. To tackle that problem, Transphorm is commercializing a high-voltage normally off GaN solution. The company’s GaN-based power converters are designed with 600 Volt transistors and low loss power diodes, will 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. Transphorm’s Total GaN-based Boost Converter operating at over 99% efficiency at 400 Volts demonstrates this for the first time.—Primit Parikh, President of Transphorm
Transphorm is an ARPA-E funding awardee, under the Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology (ADEPT) program. (Earlier post.) Its ARPA-E project seeks to enable compact motor drives and grid-tied inverters operating at high power (3-10 kW) with efficiency greater than 96%. Transphorm is developing the first hybrid multichip power modules for inverters and converters operating at high frequency (1 megahertz), using low-loss ultra-fast GaN-on-silicon power switches that are normally in off mode.
Transphorm is taking a vertical integration approach, Parikh said in an interview with GCC at last week’s ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit: it makes the material, fabricates the switches, designs the circuits and designs the application-specific modules. By using a proprietary EZ-GaN platform, Transphorm can reduce power system size, increase energy density while reducing overall system cost. This design uses fewer components, minimizes snubbers and filters, simplifies module packaging, and enables high-frequency design by reducing transients.
Transphorm is initially targeting three main markets for its GaN power electronics, Parikh said: IT and power supplies (e.g., data centers); photovoltaic inverters; and motion control (i.e., motor drives). Eventually, Parikh said, Transphorm will tackle the hybrid and EV market, for which it is well-suited; GaN operates well at high temperatures.
Transphorm is currently working with its first-generation GaN material; Parikh sees being able to deliver a 5-10x improvement on that with coming generations.
Our goal is to build [Transphorm] to be a legacy company.—Primit Parikh
Research Needs and Opportunities in Power Electronics (ARPA-E Power Technologies workshop presentation by Dr. David J. Perreault, MIT)
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