The Optical Transconductance Varistor (OTV), from Opcondys and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is a light-triggered semiconductor power switch enabling higher switching speeds than competitors at previously unattainable voltages to facilitate more efficient grid-scale power conversion, reduce expensive, environmentally damaging energy losses and generate the voltages required for medical proton therapy or air disinfection.
The OTV significantly improves upon current smart grid devices used to control electricity delivery. The OTV maintains higher output power at higher switching frequencies and shorter pulse widths than competitors, therefore shortening the off-to-on transition to cut energy losses in half compared to today’s transistors. In fact, if widely adopted, the OTV could save one billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and eliminate 750 tons of greenhouse gases annually, by 2050. OTV’s unique design enables devices to be combined to virtually any voltage and current, reducing size, weight and capital cost for smart grid equipment. With the expansion of the smart grid and introduction of renewable energy supplies, the OTV will be critical in providing the reliability and efficiency to integrate alternative energy, manage energy demands, speed power restoration after blackouts and improve grid security.