Pioneering work in semiconductor technology in the Department of Engineering has led Professor Gehan Amaratunga and Dr Florin Udrea to set up a spin-off company, Cambridge Semiconductor, to bring a new energy saving product to the market place.
"There is a huge requirement nowadays for using energy more efficiently and intelligently, particularly around the home in domestic consumer applications. Most consumer products involving electronics such as washing machines, home computers or televisions can be made much more efficient," explains Professor Amaratunga. "By merging two silicon chip technologies that are presently used independently, we have found that we can get a significant performance advantage for the silicon chips used for power management and radio frequency generation. This will enable us to reduce the energy consumption of electrical appliances in a cost effective manner, simply by making them draw power optimally at all times. We have called these systems 'power integrated circuits'."
Professor Amaratunga heads the Electronics, Power and Energy Conversion research group.
"We decided to set up a company to bring this product to the market place as we are keen, as engineers, to see this idea properly made use of. We aim to get this environmentally important invention in to as many homes as possible through licensing agreements with major manufacturers.
Often our ideas are given to existing companies where they do not always get developed for one reason or another. At the moment the climate in Cambridge is good for raising money to develop our own ideas in this way. We approached the University's Challenge Fund with our idea, and they have provided funding of £242,000 for us to demonstrate the technology. On completion of this initial stage we will be looking for further funding to demonstrate an economically viable method of manufacture which will then lead to the final stage of product development and marketing. This will all have to be accomplished within 2-3 years to give us a market leading product."
Bill Matthews who heads up Cambridge University's Challenge Fund said, "Support for entrepreneurs and their innovations is vital to the success of UK business and industry. Our investment with Cambridge Semiconductor is the latest means that real progress can be made in terms of developing this exciting invention to its commercial phase."