Transphorm is in the business of power conversion, forging gallium nitride semiconductors that can handle higher voltages and tolerate more heat than standard silicon. The start-up recently raised $15 million from Yaskawa Electric, a current customer that sells robotics and motion control systems for factories.
The company based in Goleta, California, is an anomaly in the semiconductor industry, having raised $237 million through several rounds of financing from investors like private equity firm KKR and venture capital firm GV since it was founded in 2007. It plans to spend Yaskawa’s funding to further develop products based on gallium nitride, more commonly called GaN.
Transphorm targets applications like data centers, industrial power supplies, power converters for renewable energy, and factory automation systems. Using gallium nitride transistors qualified to Jedec and AEC-Q101 reliability standards, its products can switch at faster speeds, handle higher voltages, and tolerate more heat than silicon chips.
Yaskawa used Transphorm’s 650-volt transistors in its latest line of servo motors, which it claims are half the size it would have been with silicon power electronics. “We’ve seen the benefits of working with gallium nitride,” said Yukio Tsutsui, general manager of Yaskawa’s corporate research and development division, in a statement.