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DENSO partners with and invests in FLOSFIA to develop next-gen gallium oxide power semiconductor devices for electrified vehicles

DENSO Corporation and FLOSFIA Inc., a tech startup spun out from Kyoto University, are partnering to develop a next-generation power semiconductor device expected to reduce the energy loss, cost, size and weight of inverters used in electrified vehicles (EVs). Through the joint development project, the two companies aim to improve the efficiency of EV power control units, a key to drive widespread EV use.

In addition to the joint development partnership, DENSO has acquired new shares issued by FLOSFIA in its ¥800-million (US$7.1-million) Series C funding round. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed. Other investors in the C Round included Mitsubishi Heavy, Mitsui Kinzoku-SBI Material Innovation Fund, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership and Eight Roads Ventures Japan.

Originally established at Kyoto University in 2011, FLOSFIA specializes in film-formation by mist chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and the use of gallium oxide (Ga2O3) in low-loss power devices.

Company co-founder Professor Shizuo Fujita at Kyoto University pioneered the application of corundum-structured gallium oxide (α-Ga2O3) for use in semiconductors. α-Ga2O3 semiconductors provide superior performance to other semiconductors on the market. These semiconductors have a wide bandgap of 5.3 eV and high electric breakdown field strength, meaning they can better withstand high voltage applications.

FLOSFIA has successfully fabricated a prototype Schottky Barrier Diode (SBD) using α-Ga2O3 and demonstrated an 86% reduction in on-state loss compared to a SiC reference SBD.

α-Ga2O3 can replace today’s current silicon (Si) and silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors and help further develop the technologies that will support tomorrow’s electrified vehicles, DENSO said.

Flosfia

Aligning with its vision to create the future of mobility through Connected, Automated Drive, and Electrification technologies, DENSO became interested in FLOSFIA’s technology. The two will further research and develop technology in high-voltage products for hybrid and electric vehicles, including semiconductors.

Since 2007, DENSO has provided power control units (PCUs) for hybrid and electric vehicles. PCUs use an inverter to control the power supplied from the battery to the motor generator. To use electric energy more efficiently, energy losses during the DC to AC conversion by the inverter must be reduced, and so DENSO is conducting R&D on low-loss power semiconductors.

Resources

  • Kentaro Kaneko, Masaya Oda, Toshimi Hitora, Shizuo Fujita (2017) “Corundum-structured α-Ga2O3-based alloys for future power device applications” ICEP 2017 Proceedings doi: 10.23919/ICEP.2017.7939346

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