Phononic, a startup based in Durham, North Carolina is changing the way we keep cool with its technology. It’s no news that the chemicals that are used in manufacturing cooling machines like air conditioning, refrigerator, etc., are detrimental to the environment and have been a long-time enemy of the environment and the ozone layer, but Phononic is about to change that. The startup is using a material called bismuth telluride to make so-called cooling chips.
On Wednesday, Phononic announced that it raised $50 million from Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
Tony Atti – CEO and co-founder of Phononic explaining how the innovation works said that when there is the presence of electricity, the bismuth telluride cooling chips heat up leaving one side of the chip to cool and the other to heat up.
He explained further that these chips can be as small as a portion of one’s fingernail or as big as a person’s fist, and the size totally depends on how much coolants are required. According to him, the technology has been used to create compact freezers for the transportation of vaccines and for ice cream at convenience stores like Circle K. A more recent and fast-growing use is to prevent overheating in lidars, laser-based sensors in autonomous cars, and optical transceivers for 5G data transmission.
“The historical refrigerants that had been used for vapor compression systems, they are both toxic and global warming contributors,” the startup’s CEO said.
Although the impact that cooling machines such as refrigerators have on global warming has come down a notch, they are still associated with problems such as toxicity and flammability, but Phononic wants to change this.
Tony Atti also explained that bismuth telluride powder itself is toxic, but when it is processed into a semiconductor wafer and made into a chip, it is “benign” and can be recycled or disposed of as its meets all chip safety and disposal standards.
Without disclosing figures or the company’s valuation, he said that the funding will be used to construct high-volume manufacturing and to carry out the startup’s expansion plans.