MEMS power switch startup raises $44m

October 15, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
MEMS power switch startup raises $44m
US startup Menlo Micro is raising $44m to take its MEMS switch into the power market.

“What we have done is reinvented the electronic switch,” said Russ Garcia, CEO of Menlo Micro. “We were born out of GE’s research labs where the engineers looked to reinvent the circuit breaker and they came up with this 'Ideal Switch'. GE were looking to source the switches and chose MEMS. With the gap between the contacts we can switch kW of power in a device that scales like a transistor.”

The key is the material used in the MEMS switch and the fin-like design that avoids the problem of the switch sticking. It switches with picoamps of current at 70V.

“This works from DC to mm wave frequencies as well as scaling from mW to kW. The alloy is our secret sauce, we have exclusive rights. It’s fab friendly but not a material you would find in a fab and we use it to build a cantilever beam.”

“Today we have a 50um beam with a 1um gap and each beam carries 150mA and 200V. That beam is a unit cell that we characterise and we can network these in series or in parallel to scale the current and voltage.”

Menlo has a demo module with 200V 10A DC relays with multiple beams, and a 25W 20GHz switch with a smaller number of switches.

“Right now we guarantee three billion cycles, that’s the minimum. We have built the models and through the next year will continue to raise that up to 10, 20bn cycles. We have characterisation models that the contact structures and the metals we use show most go to 20bn cycles. This really solves t4he compromise between solid state and electro mechanical as we use far less energy to run on than a IGBT.”

“We have very low on resistance so we don’t burn power, and can switch so much current. For example a 200V dimmer module for lighting requires no heat sink. At the same time we

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