Power trends: TDK's Advanced Technology Centre

June 21, 2017 //By Nick Flaherty
Andy Skinner, director of the TDK Advanced Technology Centre at the Bristol and Bath Science Park
Five years ago, TDK set up an advanced power research centre in the Bristol and Bath Science Park. Today that centre also hosts a design centre, with both supporting TDK’s operations around the world. Nick Flaherty talks to centre director and chief technology officer, Andy Skinner.

TDK's Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) emerged from the purchase of power supply maker Coutant Lambda in Ilfracombe in 2005. “We are 50% funded by Ilfracombe R&D and Israeli R&D but we are global so we share what we are doing with other groups globally Japan, China, Singapore, and the R&D managers from across the company get together each year,” said Andy Skinner, centre director and chief technology officer.

“There are six in the ATC team and four in design team and they work on a number of projects,”  said Skinner. “The things that we are most interested in are switching devices so we have been paying a lot of attention to gallium nitride in the past three years. DC to DC converters have got smaller and smaller, and AC-DC conversion has lagged behind, so improving the methods of construction and thermal management is an area we are quite interested in.”

“If you are selling a power supply into a large piece of equipment size is not an issue but if you want it in an oscilloscope then bench space has a value. So if you can make it smaller or easier to cool and better RFI then those are drivers for the converter,” he said.

“We have good relationships with a number of suppliers and try to keep our roadmaps aligned with the them,” he said. “For GaN we’ve had samples from a number of suppliers and we are able to evaluate the technologies and the differences in the options that are available. The attraction is that they know it’s testing out early pre-production parts.”

The ATC evaluates new technologies separately from the design teams.