November 26, 2022
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Energy efficiency firms snag $5M


The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $5 million to semiconductor and lighting companies in the region.

UC Santa Barbara, Buellton-based SixPoint Materials and Soraa were the recipients of money from the department.

Most of the projects revolve around gallium nitride, or GaN, a semiconducting material that can convert power more efficiently and lead to more efficient lighting. (Click here to read Business Times coverage of GaN-related companies in the region.)

UCSB received $3.1 million to continue work on GaN for power conversion. The school has already produced one spinoff in that arena, Transphorm, which has raised more than $100 million.

Another $1.7 million went to SixPoint Materials, a company working to produce wafers for high-power GaN devices. SixPoint is led by Tadao Hashimoto, who trained at the lab of Shuji Nakamura, the inventor of the blue and white LED and a major researcher at UCSB.

A final $225,000 went to Soraa for the first phase of a four-year, $3.2 million project. Soraa is based in Fremont, but it was co-founded by UCSB professors Nakamura, Jim Speck and Steve DenBaars. It maintains research operations in Goleta. The professors are legally allowed to work on private business ventures one day a week and retain their tenured positions.

The tri-county projects were among 14 in the nation to receive funding.