Denso backs Japanese gallium chip startup for electric vehicles

Denso backs Japanese gallium chip startup for electric vehicles

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Flosfia, a spinout from Kyoto University, is working with Denso on 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 on a gallium oxide device, the two companies aim to improve the efficiency of EV power control units.

As well as the joint development partnership, Denso has invested in the company in a ¥800m ($7m) Series C funding round. This brings the total investment to ¥2.26 bn ($20m) from investors including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsui Kinzoku-SBI Material Innovation Fund, the Mirai Creation Investment (backed by Toyota and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking) and Eight Roads Ventures. 

Professor Shizuo Fujita at Kyoto University pioneered the application of corundum-structured gallium oxide (α-Ga2O3) for use in semiconductors to provide a wide bandgap of 5.3 eV and high electric breakdown field strength to withstand higher voltage applications. Flosfia, founded in 2011 to commercialise the technology through film-formation by mist chemical vapour deposition (CVD), believes this can replace today’s current silicon (Si) and silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors.

Flosfia has developed a Schottky Barrier Diode (SBD) with the lowest specific on-resistance of any SBDs currently available with a 90% reduction in power and is developing its own production lines with a view to launching commercial production in 2018.

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