Skycore Semiconductors (Photo: Skycore Semiconductors)

DTU spin-out will boost green transition efficiency

Monday 08 Mar 21


Dennis Øland Larsen


Skycore Semiconductors was established on 1 February, 2021.

The founders are:
Pere Llimós Muntal, Dennis Øland Larsen, Thomas Souvignet and Guifré Vendrell Pausas.

The company has received two 'Innofounder' programmes from the Innovation Fund Denmark. The programmes cover one year's salary to develop a business idea into a financially sustainable business.

A new type of microchips for use in, for example, electric cars, street lamps, and your PC charger ensures a significantly lower energy loss and fills a market gap, which can contribute to making the green transition more efficient. 

An essential part of the green transition is about electrifying more products in order to exploit renewable energy sources. In this connection, there is great interest in developing better power converters, which form part of the core of all electronics and ensure that power is switched seamlessly from one voltage to another. A new spin-out from DTU has developed a microchip technology that can significantly reduce energy loss and the size of these power converters.

The design of power converters can generally be based on either coils or capacitors. Almost all power supplies are today based on coils. For some years, however, there has been focus on developing capacitor-based power converters—so-called switched-capacitor technology—for the low-voltage range, for example for hearing aids and microprocessors. Here, the technology has shown promising results in the form of lower energy loss and smaller size.

As something new, a spin-out from DTU Electrical Engineering—Skycore Semiconductors—will instead use the technology in the high-voltage range. 

“At DTU, there’s a unique collaboration environment between research in microchips and in power electronics, working with high voltages. This has formed the basis of our business and the new technology, for which we see a large market,” says Pere Llimós Muntal, one of the four researchers behind Skycore Semiconductors and now CEO of the company.

In their opinion, there is a great need for better power converters in the high-voltage range, where—for example— electric cars or consumer products such as PCs and chargers will benefit from the smaller and lower-priced switched-capacitor microchips, which are also energy saving. 

Use of latest technologies
The four researchers have used the latest technologies to develop their product. Most of the work has been done by computer with use of mathematical modelling, programming, and automation, but they have obviously also been in the laboratory to test that their developed microchip worked. 
“At the same time, we’ve attached great importance to our product being reconfigurable, so that it’s future-proof from the outset and can easily be adapted to new applications. In some contexts—for example—it will be most interesting for a product to have a power converter that ensures a lower price. In other connections, efficiency will be the key factor, and our chip must be useable in both cases,” says Dennis Øland Larsen, CTO in Skycore Semiconductors.

The vision is that their microchip can be included in the power converters used when converting solar energy for use in the power grid, thus making the green transformation even more efficient. 

Research to be applied to products
The coming year will be used on commercialization of the research in which the four researchers have been engaged during the past seven years. It is about executing the go-to-market strategy, but also about developing the final elements for the microchips. 

“As a researcher, your focus is on developing microchips that test new concepts. As a business, you’re also concerned with quality control and the vast number of safety features required in commercial products. We’re now tackling this challenge with our team, which also includes people with industrial experience,” says Dennis Øland Larsen.

Several established companies have already shown interest in the new product, and the team behind Skycore Semiconductors have no doubt that they will meet a need in the market. 

Skycore Semiconductors also wants to maintain a close connection with DTU and the unique competences found here. 

“We want to contribute to ensuring Denmark a place at the forefront of the development of high-voltage microchips, where our business can help further develop the technology and secure jobs for future engineers,” says Pere Llimós Muntal.