See this MR16 lamp? Notice that tiny driver next to it? Now imagine that this tiny driver is actually a complete AC to DC, dimmable LED driver. Amazing, isn’t it? And this is the very near future for the lighting industry.
MIT technology startup OnChip Power has just rebranded itself as FINsix, and finally published a little more detailed information on their website. I especially like their explanation of their technology and advantages, which I will re-quote below for posterity. If you’ve ever tried to develop an LED fixture, much of what they say should be “music to your ears”:
Anatomy of a Power Converter
A power converter’s job is to take electrical energy from a source, like a wall plug or a battery, and change and regulate it so that it can be used efficiently. The converter takes small packets of charge, temporarily stores the energy, and then delivers it to the load (your portable device, for instance) in a cyclical manner. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect process, and every cycle some energy is wasted in the form of heat.
FINsix: Frequency Innovation for Power
At FINsix, our patented technology allows us to waste far less energy each cycle. By combining fundamental circuit concepts including resonance and wave shaping with new power conversion architectures, we can cycle up to 1,000 times faster than today’s systems without wasting any more energy. The result is very high frequency (VHF) switching—as high as 100 MHz—that yields a cascade of fundamental advantages…
10x Power Density
At VHF switching frequencies, energy is processed more often, so it can be handled in smaller chunks. This means less temporary energy storage so the inductors and capacitors can shrink. Since these energy storage components occupy the bulk of the volume, the direct consequence is reduced converter size—up to 10x—and higher power density.Amazing Transient Response
Transient response reflects how fast a power converter can adapt to changes in the load or source. FINsix converters are 1,000x faster than today’s technology. This makes life easier for system designers and enables unexpected applications, like best in class dimming and compatibility for LED lamps.
The elimination of heavy components, like magnetic core transformers, enables superior resistance to mechanical shock and vibration. And without electrolytic capacitors, FINsix’s power converters sustain very high operating temperatures.
Since we don’t need discrete inductors or other through-hole components, our power converters can be manufactured in a fully automated surface-mount process, ensuring high reliability and repeatability.