OTTAWA, Ontario – After months of excitement and speculation, the results of the Google Little Box Challenge have been announced, and GaN Systems can reveal that their gallium nitride power transistors were instrumental in achieving the winning design. Google and the IEEE Power Electronics Society awarded the $1 Million prize to CE+T’s Red Electrical Devils for designing, building and demonstrating an inverter with the highest power density and smallest volume. The competition included more than 2,000 registered teams, from which 18 finalists were selected. After 4 months of testing the finalists’ designs, the $1M prize winner was announced at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, DC.
Why did Google launch a power electronics contest and award $1,000,000? Because the world’s unrelenting demand for more power is unsustainable without using fewer manufacturing materials and consuming less energy to operate the burgeoning number of electronic devices. And why did they focus on inverters? Because inverters, which convert direct current (DC) from solar panels or batteries into the alternating current (AC) that is used to power homes, businesses, motors and cars, consume vast amounts of materials and energy. The Little Box Challenge organizers dared the world’s engineers, “Figure out how to shrink an inverter down to something smaller than a small laptop (a reduction of > 10× in volume) and smaller than everyone else, and you’ll win a million dollars (and help revolutionize electricity for the next century).”
The key goal of the challenge was to reach an inverter power density in excess of 50 W/cubic inch in a volume of under 40 cubic inches – a feat which had never been done before. The Red Electrical Devils presented their entry at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, and successfully passed exhaustive testing. Their winning inverter design produced a power density of 143 W/cubic inch in 14 cubic inches, outperforming the Little Box Challenge power density goal by nearly a factor of 3, which, according to Google, “is 10 times more compact than commercially available inverters.”
Central to the team’s success were the GS66508P gallium nitride power transistors from GaN Systems, the leading manufacturer of GaN power devices. For more details, visit http://www.gansystems.com