Semitrex' ultimate goal: "one size fits all" power conversion

March 02, 2015 // By Julien Happich
After two years in stealth mode and having filed 46 patents around a capacitive voltage reduction technology dubbed muxcapacitor, Californian startup Semitrex Technologies is looking up to address a three billion unit a year power supply and battery charger market with what it claims to be a one-size fits all power supply on a chip, the Tronium.

By arranging a network of cascading silicon supercapacitors cleverly controlled through interconnected gates, founder Michael Freeman, CEO and CTO for Semitrex explained eeNews Europe that he had effectively designed a much more energy efficient power conversion device without relying on inherently dissipative inductors.

The design gets rid of magnetic and inductive components altogether, finely controlling instant charge transfers through the chip's built-in networks of multiplexed supercapacitors. Doing so, Freeman was able to design a very compact down converting solution programmable to output voltages from 1.7V to 48V starting from high mains DC levels.

In a way, what the Tronium chip does is to control the flow of charges from one voltage level to the next, barely with any dissipation. Built at the 1.8um node, the design’s tunable capacitance across a whole chip can vary from 0.1uF to 7uF.

“The real breakthrough was that we were able to figure out custom circuitry and unlock the secret of sharing the gates appropriately to take a main DC voltage all the way down to any voltage”, told us Freeman, not willing to reveal more about the architecture of the chip.

Prototyped in a 50x50mm form factor this configurable “dial-a-voltage” solution could eliminate the need for the more than 2,500 existing power supplies currently offered to span the globe’s differing voltage requirements, he claims.

According to the company’s datasheets, Tronium ICs boast an efficiency that starts at 92% right from a 50mA current output, going up to 97%.

Freeman hopes to improve this efficiency figure to 99% by tweaking the process or using GaNi or other material options. The equity-owned startup (strong of 30 engineers) has already churned out its 3rd round of silicon and is expecting its fourth batch by the end of February. Generations 5 and 6 should be ready by July with first samples going to selected customers by the end of the summer and maybe a first commercial product ready

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