Execs at Irvine’s Menlo Microsystems Inc. boldly tout their product, a 21st century take on the ubiquitous electronic switch, as the “most important technological innovation in the electronics industry since the transistor.”
Deep-pocketed investors are buying in to that boast.
The four-year-old company, with its roots in work done by General Electric researchers and ties to several area chipmakers, last month hauled in $44 million in Series B funding to boost production of its ‘Ideal Switch,’ a super-small microelectromechanical system product used to help power all types of electrical products.
The Ideal Switch is said to be 99% smaller, lighter, and more efficient than conventional switches and electromagnetic relays. It can handle kilowatts of power and is built in a structure smaller than a human hair.
The switch is designed to be used in components for products in a host of industries and next-gen technologies, ranging from smart phones, to aerospace applications, to radio-frequency systems.
By providing a more efficient electronic switch that’s compatible with high-end processors that have seen far more advancements in recent years, the company’s product is expected to make smartphone batteries last longer, medical instruments more precise, and make 5G networks run better, among other applications.
The need for the product is well overdue, officials say.
“The electronic switch hasn’t changed much—in fact, the circuit breaker was invented 140 years ago—and needs to be faster and manage energy better,” Chief Executive Russ Garcia said.
It also has been more than 70 years since the invention of the silicon transistor, and over 185 years since the invention of the electromechanical relay, according to the company.
These legacy technologies “have major shortcomings that can limit the performance of many end products and systems,” it says.