iDEAL Semiconductor raises $40M to develop cheaper and energy-efficient power chips for electric cars
The widespread adoption of electric power in various sectors has placed significant demands on the energy infrastructure grid. This necessitates the development of cleaner energy generation methods as well as the implementation of greener practices to ensure sustainable energy usage.
With the projected number of electric vehicles (EVs) on American roads expected to reach 18.7 million by 2030, our energy grid capacity and renewable supply must grow, while smarter usage reduces waste. That’s why tech companies are working on the development of efficient power chips made from a material called silicon carbide (SiC).
These power chips, which are currently being manufactured by companies including Wolfspeed Inc. and On Semiconductor Corp, go into everything from washing machines to cloud servers. They help with the task of converting alternating current (AC) from the electric grid to the direct current (DC) used by the device. In addition, they have ten times better dielectric breakdown field strength than silicon and also have the potential to significantly enhance the range of electric vehicles.
However, the materials used for these power chips are costly and face other supply chain challenges when compared to the cheaper standard silicon commonly found in most chips. Now, one startup has come up with a new way to make these power chips without using silicon carbide.
Enter iDEAL Semiconductor, a Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania-based fabless semiconductor startup that has developed a novel technique that draws inspiration from various fields, including solar panel technology.
iDEAL Semiconductor uses a new method that enables it to create chips using standard silicon, which can effectively rival the energy efficiency of more exotic materials.
Founded by CEO Mark Granahan, CTO David Jauregui, and Chairman Michael Burns, iDEAL offers groundbreaking levels of power efficiency through its innovative proprietary technology.
Its patented technology empowers advanced system designers with a wider range of performance options, enabling them to create cutting-edge products that lead the industry across various sectors. IdealSemi.com aims to deliver solutions that cater to today’s demands as well as tomorrow’s emerging needs in the most dynamic market segments.
iDEAL said that its SuperQ chip “cuts power conversion losses by 20-30% at no extra cost, enhancing efficiency and lowering energy costs.”
For example, the chips created by iDEAL Semiconductor have a 55% larger conduction area compared to SuperJunction structures.
“We’ve had this drum beat for the past 10 years that silicon is dead,” said Mark Granahan, iDEAL’s chief executive officer. “It’s quite frankly the lack of innovation in silicon that has enabled that drum beat.”
As part of its goal to bring build cheaper electric car chips to the market, iDeal announced today that it has raised $40 million in funding. The round, which brings the company’s total funding to $75 million, is backed by investing arm of semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker Applied Materials.
In addition, iDEAL has also formed a partnership with Polar Semiconductor, a chip manufacturer based in Bloomington, Minnesota, to produce its initial chips. These chips are scheduled to be released later this year.
According to Granahan, while silicon carbide chips can outperform iDEAL’s chips in specific applications like the ones requiring exceptionally high voltage, such as electric semi trucks, he believes iDEAL’s chips can be competitive in approximately 90% of the overall power chip market.
“We’re early days with the technology, and we’re certainly going to push the boundaries upwards,” Granahan explained.