Researchers at Evince Technology Ltd have demonstrated what they claim as the first diamond electronic switching device and are seeking £2 million in new venture capital funding to fund the next phase of product development.
The all solid-state device creates the opportunity to switch voltages in excess of 15,000 volts and is expected to halve the cost of power control systems. The new class of diamond devices is expected to replace silicon switches.
Silicon is the material most commonly used in modern power switching devices but is only capable of handling up to 3,300 volts. This has a cost and space implication for in applications such as train engines.
Evince, based in Durham UK, says its diamond-based devices will make the vision of electricity smart grids a reality, enabling sustainable sources of power generation, such as offshore wind farms, to connect to any point on the grid.
The company plans to release its first commercial product in late 2010, a 10,000 volt fast recovery diode that will significantly improve the performance of existing high voltage silicon-based switching devices.
Gareth Taylor, CEO, said, “Governments across the globe are placing great faith in the ability of sustainable and renewable energy to halt the effects of global warming. However, until these energy sources are commercially viable their take-up will be slow.
“Evince’s diamond electronic switches are likely to be the first devices worldwide capable of switching at utility distribution voltages and will have a dramatic impact on energy generation costs. This, in turn, will make renewable energy a much more affordable alternative.”
The diodes also represent an enabling technology for smart grids, renewable power and rail and marine traction drive systems. “The ability to switch greater than 15,000 volts in a single Evince device is expected to halve the cost of power control systems. This will make many renewable generation systems, such as wave and tidal power, economically viable for the first time,” said Taylor
Neil Loxley, Chairman of Evince, said, “Diamond is often perceived as the ultimate electronic material but its commercial development has been restricted, as developers have attempted to make it work in the same way as a classic silicon semiconductor. By contrast, the Evince solution uses a radically different and elegant solution that exploits the fundamental properties of diamond.”
Evince Technology was founded in 2008 following more than a decade of privately funded research. The company has been funded to date by grants, loans and venture capital from Northstar Equity Investors, Imperial Innovations and Carbon Trust Investments.