There is a growing demand for smaller and smaller components in our electronic devices. Our cell phones and PCs need to contain more functions and be faster without becoming heavier or larger. So it met with great interest when a group of DTU researchers developed the prototype of the world's smallest power converter a few years ago. It ensures that the voltage from, for example, the battery or the mains is converted into the voltage range used by the various functions in the mobile phone. Since a separate converter is usually required for each feature, a mobile phone can contain up to 15 of them, which should therefore preferably be as small as possible.
In addition to its small size, the new converter offers a very high level of efficiency and thus saves energy. The converter has several other important advantages.
“Our new technology enables the converter circuit to be integrated on a silicon substrate. The silicon material occurs naturally in large quantities and is therefore both inexpensive and sustainable to use. At the same time, it is just as important that a substrate made of silicon, due to its higher thermal conductivity, prevents the formation of so-called “hotspots” at very high temperatures. This means that we don't risk igniting the battery, for example, which is often part of the electronics, ”says Ahmed Ammar, one of the three founders of Lotus Microsystems.
Ahmed Ammar met Yasser Nour and Hoa Thanh Le at DTU, where they jointly developed the new technology behind the small power converter. Several companies showed interest in the first prototypes, which is why the three decided to found the company Lotus Microsystems at the end of 2020.
“We see many opportunities for our product to be used. First of all there is the whole headphone, hearing aid and other medical electronics area where size is a key parameter. The low weight also makes our converter interesting for use in satellites or drones, ”says Yasser Nour.
In the long term, the company's vision is for the converter to be part of many of the electronic products we use in our daily lives, making them more sustainable.
Innovative environment encourages spin-offs
At the DTU electrical engineering– where the small converter was developed – there is great enthusiasm for the new company.
"It's always nice when our research is used in society and creates both new companies and jobs," says Professor Michael A. E. Andersen.
Michael A. E. Andersen points out that the research carried out at universities often leads to new technological solutions that can prove to be so feasible that they can later form the basis for a spin-off.
“In my part of the DTU alone, we have contributed to 13 spin-offs and registered more than 140 patents in the last 20 years. We protect our unique innovative environment very much, so this development will undoubtedly continue. "
Supplier to large Danish companies
Due to their strong academic expertise in electronics and nanofabrication, the three founders of Lotus Microsystems develop their product for sale and adapt it to various applications. After participating in the 2020 Danish Tech Challenge – a growth program for tech-intensive startups – the company also teamed up with Erik Stangerup, the company's chief commercial officer.
"With his experience from his many years of employment in technology companies, Erik has the right insight to conduct a dialogue with our investors and potential customers," says Ahmed Ammar.
Lotus Microsystems expects to launch its first product later this year. It will be a power converter for audio solutions such as speakers and amplifiers. The next step will be to develop a production design for hearing aids and headphones, where the size of the power converter is particularly important.
“We hope to be able to launch this product in early 2022 and to reach agreements with some of the most important Danish and international companies that dominate the world market for hearing aids and headphones in particular,” says Yasser Nour.