Transistors for Electric Motor Drives

Default ARPA-E Project Image

Goleta, California
Project Term:
09/01/2010 - 05/28/2013

Technology Description:

Transphorm is developing transistors with gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors that could be used to make cost-effective, high-performance power converters for a variety of applications, including electric motor drives which transmit power to a motor. A transistor acts like a switch, controlling the electrical energy that flows around an electrical circuit. Most transistors today use low-cost silicon semiconductors to conduct electrical energy, but silicon transistors don’t operate efficiently at high speeds and voltage levels. Transphorm is using GaN as a semiconductor material in its transistors because GaN performs better at higher voltages and frequencies, and it is more energy efficient than straight silicon. However, Transphorm is using inexpensive silicon as a base to help keep costs low. The company is also packaging its transistors with other electrical components that can operate quickly and efficiently at high power levels—increasing the overall efficiency of both the transistor and the entire motor drive.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Transphorm’s transistors would improve the energy efficiency of electric motor drives by 2-8%.


Efficient, variable speed motor drives could help reduce peak power demand, increasing the reliability of the power grid.


The energy savings from more efficient motor drives could power 13 million homes.


More efficient motor drives in the U.S. alone could save over $13 billion annually—money that could be spent to get the economy back on track.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact:
Dr. Primit Parikh
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

Related Projects

Release Date: