Transphorm, a startup company launched by the University of California at Santa Barbara, has got the backing of major investors, including Google and Kleiner Perkins, for technology that could substantially cut power consumption in computers, electric cars, motors and other appliances.

Almost all of the appliances that we use run on DC power, but the power grid is AC. Currently, AC-to-DC and DC-to-AC power converter chips are made from silicon and are usually about 85 to 90% percent efficient, The rest of the energy gets converted into waste heat.

Transphorm has developed a semiconductor platform, using gallium nitride, which utilizes up to 90% of the energy that is currently being wasted. Not only would this result in direct energy savings, but the need for the air conditioning to get rid of the waste heat would be eleiminated and the life of many components would be extended by being run at lower temperatures.

Transphorm estimates that if its solution were applied universally, it could save hundreds of terawatt hours of energy a year – equivalent to the output of about 300 coal-fired power stations.