UT Dallas Spinoff Receives $250,000 From State Tech Fund

Researchers at Cirasys Developing Digital Controls for Next Generation of Power Converters

Sep. 27, 2012

Cirasys Inc., a spinoff company based on technology developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas, recently received $250,000 from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF).

If certain milestones are met, the company could receive up to $750,000 more, said Paul Nichols, vice president of marketing at Cirasys and a UT Dallas alumnus (BA’95, MBA’98).

Dr. Louis Hunt, professor emeritus of engineering, is chief scientist at Cirasys and a co-inventor of the technology that the firm is developing.

Located at UT Dallas’ Venture Development Center, a facility that houses several UT Dallas spinoff companies, Cirasys is focused on developing next-generation digital control and conversion technology for power converters. Power converters take power from a source, such as a wall plug or battery, and convert it to a voltage that is needed by a particular electronic device.

“Power converters are part of everyday life,” said Cirasys CEO Paul Gregory. “They can be as small as a chip or as large as a table. It all depends on the amount of voltage and wattage they have to manage. There are likely more than half a dozen in each smartphone. With the migration toward digital control of converters, there are substantial opportunities to make them more flexible and functional, and to provide entirely new capabilities for electronics product designers to work with.”

Researchers in UT Dallas’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science invented a control method and specialized algorithms that allow power converters to be more useful in power environments requiring high levels of stability and precision, or that must manage varying levels of voltage. The University licensed the technology to Cirasys for further development and commercialization. Dr. Louis Hunt, professor emeritus of engineering, is chief scientist at Cirasys and a co-inventor of the technology with adjunct professor Dr. Robert J. Taylor (PhD’04). Dr. Dinesh Bhatia and Dr. Poras Balsara, both professors of electrical engineering, are involved in the research and development.

Dr. Poras Balsara

Dr. Dinesh Bhatia

Some applications for such next-generation power converters include solar and wind power generation, LED lighting systems, motor control, battery charging and management, highly stable power supplies, and hybrid electric vehicles. The control technology is “power-level agnostic,” so it can be used in very small electronic devices or grid-level power systems, Nichols said.   

“How we generate, store and use electricity is rapidly becoming a critical concern across all industries,” Gregory said. "While the act of power conversion is at the core of all electronic devices, it hasn't kept pace with the tremendous growth and advances in consumer and industrial electronics and renewable-energy systems. The investment from the TETF shows that Texas is serious about fostering new technologies and companies in the global energy race, and will accelerate our commercialization efforts considerably."

Robert Robb, associate vice president for technology commercialization at UT Dallas, said, “The launch of Cirasys as a UT Dallas spinoff is a stellar example of what can happen when university researchers, UT Dallas’ Office of Technology Commercialization, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas, state ETF funding, and successful business experts come together collaboratively.”

The TETF is a $200 million initiative created by the Texas Legislature in 2005 at the governor's request. To date, the TETF has allocated more than $194 million in funds to 137 early stage companies, according to the governor’s office. Since the inception of the fund, recipients have attracted more than $592 million in additional investment from non-state sources.


Media Contact: Amanda Siegfried, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4335, amanda.siegfried@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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