In 2008, an electrical engineering lab at MIT developed a power conversion technology that would alter the usual tradeoff between size and efficiency of power conversion in semiconductors. They called it TIPS (Transformative Integrated Power Structure), and after testing it, showed that it could cut power losses by 50-75%.

Since then, the technology has been patented and is now being commercialized by a startup called Arctic Sand. The co-founders Nadia Shalaby (CEO) and David Giuliano (CTO) met through a class at the MIT Sloan School of Management. This class, called Innovation Teams, brought together management and engineering in a way that would result in collaborations between the two sides. Giuliano and Shalaby worked together on TIPS and after the class, decided they would start a company out of it. This is now Arctic Sand.

As explained by Shalaby, in the case of a cell phone, you would be converting from a 5V lithium ion battery to 1V for the microprocessor, and then to 30V for the display. This energy is traditionally stored magnetically, in inductors, but Arctic Sand is looking to store it electrically, in capacitors, which has 1000 times the energy storage density of magnetic energy storage. With this technology, Arctic Sand’s core market is data centers, which “currently spend $200 billion annually to keep their facilities running [and] emit more carbon dioxide than the entire commercial airline industry.” After targeting this market, in a couple of years, Arctic Sand should be able to partner with all types of companies to produce electronics that operate at a much higher efficiency for the same size.

Giuliano and Shalaby are currently in the process of securing funding, and are planning on launching the company in the fall. According to Shalaby, their next steps are to distribute hardware samples to customers for testing, “secure a couple of design wins,” and to start designing specifically for those customers.

Eventually, Arctic Sand is looking to grow as a mature company and become an initial public offering.