(Image courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center).

Akash Systems Raises $3.1 Million for Power Amplifiers with Hearts of Diamond

Akash Systems, which has been trying to recreate power amplifiers for small satellites that can fit inside a grocery bag, announced on Tuesday that it raised $3.1 million in its first funding round. The company is trying to muscle into the crowded market for tiny Cubesats that beam wireless connectivity down to earth.

The company has manufactured a power amplifier that operates at significantly lower temperatures than traditional power amplifiers. That way, Akash can build smaller satellites with more compact cooling systems that have the same capabilities as larger systems using less efficient power amplifiers. That translates into lower costs to launch them into orbit.

The technology is based on gallium nitride – more commonly known as GaN – which can operate at higher voltages than chips based on traditional silicon. But instead of growing the semiconductors on a silicon substrate, Akash bonds the gallium nitride to slabs of artificial diamond, which is more expensive but whisks away heat from hotspots almost instantly.

“Today’s worldwide data demand is outpacing the bandwidth and power capabilities of our current communication infrastructure,” said Felix Ejeckam, Akash’s co-founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “We have the technology and innovation to look beyond current satellite systems in order to enable the design of small satellite systems and subsystems in the very near future.”

Founded in 2016, the company plans to unfurl its business in several stages. By next year, it wants to supply its power amplifiers to satellite system makers targeting high-speed communications or other applications, like taking photographs of earth. Akash said in a statement that its GaN-on-diamond chips are currently on the market. Further out, it wants to field its own satellites.

The funding round was led by venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. Other investors in the San Francisco-based company include Social Capital, Data Collective, Ruvento Ventures, Sriram Krishnan, and Backstage Capital.

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