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14 November 2018

3-5 Power Electronics secures financing from Sturm Family Office

© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.

3-5 Power Electronics GmbH (35PE) of Dresden, Germany – which specializes in developing and producing gallium arsenide (GaAs) power semiconductors – has secured new financing from the Sturm Family Office (SFO) of Bad-Mergentheim in Germany.

35PE has pioneered a first-of-a-kind process to deposit thick GaAs layers on top of GaAs substrates to produce high-voltage/high-current power semiconductors. The process aims to produce superior power devices at a lower manufacturing cost than devices fabricated from silicon or silicon carbide (SiC).

Near-term applications include industrial motor drives, uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) and renewable energy products, such as wireless chargers for solar and wind inverters. Future applications include electric vehicles (EVs), robotics and 5G technologies.

Founded in late 2015 to optimize GaAs technology to enable power devices, 35PE has raised €5.3m ($6.10m) to date, including funds previously secured from Shanghai-based SINO Alliance Investment Ltd. The new funds will be used to prepare 35PE’s operations for product commercialization which is planned for second-half 2019, and to forge partnerships with established leaders to help speed the firm’s GaAs devices to market.

Samples of the GaAs diodes have been submitted for testing to power module makers in Europe and China. Applications include battery charging, welding and industrial heating.

GaAs technology has been used for decades to produce low-voltage/high-frequency devices, but now - because of its inherent advantages over silicon, silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride (GaN), and other materials - it is being leveraged to build compact high-power semiconductor devices. Devices based on GaAs technology deliver higher energy savings, superior performance and greater reliability than those based on silicon, says the firm. For example, compared with a conventional SiC Schottky diode in a 3.3kW wireless charging system, a GaAs-based device was shown to consume nearly 20% less power. Also, GaAs-based power modules and systems can be as much as 50% smaller and lighter than the silicon alternative. In addition, compared with devices fabricated with wide-bandgap (WBG) SiC and GaN materials, GaAs-based devices are far less costly to manufacture, while demonstrating equal (and often better) performance advantages.

35PE says that its vision was to stretch the capabilities of GaAs technology and simultaneously improve the manufacturing economics. Thick GaAs layers are imperative for the production of high-power devices (>600–1700V and up to 100–150A). The firm claims to be first to pioneer deposition technologies to produce high-power GaAs devices in high volume.

“While we’ve laid the foundation to deliver a unique enabling technology solution to the power electronics industry, the new funding will help us build a global business,” reckons CEO Dr Gerhard Bolenz. “Most importantly, with growing customer interest in our technology, we can size our infrastructure for speedy response and service,” he adds.

“The technology is clever, differentiated and enabling, with real potential to transform the power electronics industry,” believes SFO. “With nearly 90 years of collective semiconductor experience, the 35PE team has achieved critical technology milestones by executing with focus and discipline, and using their resources wisely.”

At its headquarters in Dresden’s Silicon Saxony region, 35PE has established a lean model to develop, produce and distribute high-voltage GaAs wafers and related semiconductor devices for power electronics. Multiple patents have been filed worldwide and one has already been granted. In addition, the firm has established select distribution networks in Asia to create an efficient feedback loop between it and end-users. In parallel, it is pursuing partnerships with strategic investors and global manufacturers to execute more speedily on its technology roadmap and accelerate its market entry.

See related items:

3-5 Power Electronics begins production of GaAs power semiconductors

Tags: GaAs Power electronics

Visit: www.3-5pe.com

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