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Transphorm of Goleta Unveils First Energy-Saving Product

Company lays the groundwork for use of gallium nitride for power conversion technology

Transphorm Inc., based in Goleta, has announced the qualification of its first product that may cut energy waste by 20 percent.

The products are variations of the 600-volt diodes that use its patented gallium nitride technology.

The idea began as a dream between a UCSB professor and a student. Nineteen years later, Umesh Mishra and Primit Parikh are using a relatively unexploited source to revolutionize power conversion.

“Our team lays the key first stake in the ground demonstrating that 600V GaN (gallium nitride) is not just a long-term promise, but today a superior product — an accomplishment made possible by working closely with our customer-partners who deliver the end products for power conversion,” said Parikh, president and co-founder of Transphorm. “For customers looking for a low-risk road map to the next generation of power conversion technology, Transphorm’s EZ-GaN provides a cost-effective, customizable and easy-to-use solution ready for commercial scale.”

Transphorm develops more efficient power converters that could substantially curb power consumption in computers, electric cars, motors and other appliances. The energy savings could amount to more than all the electricity consumed by the West Coast in a year, according to Mishra, CEO and co-founder.

Right now, most converters are made out of silicon and are about 90 percent efficient, while the rest gets converted into waste heat. Transphorm can improve that number to the upper 90s using GaN. GaN has been used to power white-light LEDs but has never been used in large-scale conversion, where silicon has dominated for years.

“Gallium nitride is the core,” Parikh previously told Noozhawk. “It’s fundamentally a better material. Our team has figured out how to harness it and make it practical. Before the material existed in nature, but no one saw it.”

The company has a small factory at 115 Castilian Drive in Goleta, where more than 100 employees manufacture some of the products on site in “clean rooms.” Mishra has been working with GaN since he formed Nitreous in 1996, which was later sold to Cree Inc. The UCSB professor and Parikh founded Transphorm in 2007 and have received $38 million in funding from Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital and Lux Capital.

“Our EZ-GaN solutions also impact broad applications such as motor drive systems, where our products provide 2 to 8 percent electromechanical efficiency gains,” Mishra said.

To demonstrate the performance of its technology, Transphorm showcased its EZ-GaN-based DC-to-DC Boost Converter that runs at more than 99 percent efficiency at the Applied Power Electronics Conference.

Transphorm said its technology can reduce power system size, increase energy density and deliver high efficiencies across the grid, from HVACs to hybrids, and servers to solar panels.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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