DENSO Corporation, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, and FLOSFIA Inc., a tech startup spun 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, and usher in a future of safer, more sustainable mobility. In addition to the joint development partnership, DENSO has acquired new shares issued by FLOSFIA in its Series C funding round.
FLOSFIA raised JPY800 million in its Series C round from several existing and new investors including strategic ones. This round brings FLOSFIA’s total capital raised to approximately JPY 2.26 billion. In addition to DENSO, underwriting companies have included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Mitsui Kinzoku-SBI Material Innovation Fund, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership, and Eight Roads Ventures Japan.
FLOSFIA is aiming to commercialize Corundum Structured Gallium Oxide (α-Ga2O3) in order to revolutionize power electronics. FLOSFIA Inc. will use this capital to develop its own production lines and commence commercial production of the world’s first α-Ga2O3 power device in 2018.
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 5.3eV and high electric breakdown field strength, meaning they can better withstand high voltage applications. α-Ga2O3 will replace today’s current silicon (Si) and silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors and help further develop the technologies that make tomorrow’s electrified vehicles a reality.
Originally established at Kyoto University in 2011, FLOSFIA is a world leader in R&D and commercializing α-Ga2O3. 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.
Financial terms of DENSO’s investment were not disclosed.
Making use of physical properties of gallium oxide (Ga2O3), FLOSFIA is focused on development of low-loss power devices. FLOSFIA succeeded in a development of a Schottky Barrier Diode (SBD) with the lowest specific on-resistance of any SBDs currently available on the market (through an internal investigation), realizing technologies linked to power loss reduction that is reduced up to 90 percent less than before.
FLOSFIA will now develop its own production lines with a view to launching commercial production in 2018.FLOSFIA produces a variety of thin films, enhancing MISTDRY™ technology, achieving commercialization of power devices, and realizing application of its technology to electrode materials, oxide compounds with functional properties for electronic devices, plating and polymers.