One of the fields of research in which companies are currently investing is the reduction in the size of power electronics. This means the electronic devices, mainly semiconductors, capable of adapting and transforming electrical energy to feed equipment in a controlled manner, to transform current from direct to alternating and vice versa, and to control the speed and the operation of electric machines.
The reduction in the size and the cost of power electronics is still contingent upon the study of new materials, such as gallium nitride, which are more efficient for the high frequencies employed in this type of electronics than those currently in use.
While the researchers work to reduce the cost of these new materials, a North American start-up, FINsix, has designed a new circuit which, when the materials can be widely adopted, will allow power electronics to be smaller, more efficient and more economical. So far they have presented the first application, which will be commercialised this year: power adaptors for laptop computers which are 75% smaller than the conventional ones.
A Socket-Sized Adaptor Capable of Charging Several Devices at Once
Last week FINsix presented the first commercial application of the new circuit design developed by David Perreault, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was presented at the International Consumer Electronics Fair, CES, which is held annually in Las Vegas.
4 Times Smaller, Six Times Lighter, and Cheaper
This first product is an adaptor, the size of a normal socket, for laptop computers and other devices and it is six times lighter. The adaptor will also be more economical than those we use now because it requires less material for its manufacture and the production process is simpler.
The adaptor has a power of 65 watts and can charge various devices simultaneously. It incorporates a USB port to replace telephone and tablet chargers, it eliminates the current bulky leads, it occupies a single socket when it is plugged in, and it is compatible with the main laptop computers brands.
The technology developed by FINsix has managed to reduce the size of power electronics by increasing the frequency at which the devices operate (by up to 1,000 times). Until now, higher frequencies reduced efficiency due to the energy lost inside the adaptor. However, the team that developed the adaptor has managed to recycle the majority of this energy.