RTP-based Phononic Devices raises $21 million

dbracken@newsobserver.comDecember 12, 2013 

Phononic Devices, a 4-year-old company in Research Triangle Park that is building cooling technology for use in refrigeration devices, has raised $21 million in venture capital.

The 50-employee company plans to use the funds to expand its manufacturing capacity in RTP.

CEO Anthony Atti said Phononic has reached an agreement with an Asian refrigeration company to place its technology in the company’s residential refrigerators. Those products are expected to be on the market sometime next year.

Atti declined to disclose Phononic’s Asian partner. He said the agreement came after Phononic toured the world meeting with potential partners in an attempt to identify the best applications for its technology.

“We innovate and manufacture the key component right here in RTP, but the end market and the end application for the refrigerators and where we want to sell is in Asia,” Atti said.

Phononic’s focus on Asia is also reflected in its newest investor. The latest funding round was led by Tsing Capital, a Chinese investor, and included previous investors National Bank Financial, Oak Investment Partners and Venrock.

Phononic makes semiconductor devices and components that replace the compressors traditionally used in refrigerators. Atti said Phononic’s system uses less electricity, and is quieter and lighter than a compressor. The system also eliminates the need for freon.

In addition to developing its own intellectual property, Phononic has licensed technology from Oklahoma University, the California Institute of Technology and the University of Santa Cruz. The company had raised $17 million in venture capital prior to this latest round.

Atti said Phononic believes its technology could eventually be applied to a wide range of markets.

“We’re looking at electronics cooling, data server cooling applications – any area that has concentrated heat that needs to be removed,” he said.

Bracken: 919-829-4548; Twitter: @brackendavid

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