Photo/IllutrationNobel laureate Hiroshi Amano holds an inverter made of gallium nitride for use in electric cars. (Masaki Yamamoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

An electric car with enhanced energy efficiency developed by a Nagoya University team led by a Nobel laureate will make its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show starting Oct. 24.

The next-generation "All GaN Vehicle" is about 20 percent more efficient than current models thanks to the special gallium nitride (GaN) material used in its inverter.

The car was developed by a team at the university's Institute of Materials and Systems for Sustainability headed by Hiroshi Amano, co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for the development of blue light-emitting diodes.

Amano is a professor of electrical engineering at the institute.

The motor show at the Tokyo Big Sight in the Odaiba area will be open to the public on Oct. 25 and run until Nov. 4.

Motors in electric cars are powered by an inverter that converts DC into AC in the battery. Normally silicon is used in the inverter, but Amano's team employed GaN to achieve greater energy efficiency.

The team created a prototype buggy measuring three meters long and weighing about one ton. During test runs, the vehicle reached speeds of about 50 kph, but the group wants to improve that to 100 kph by the end of the current fiscal year.

"This is the first electric vehicle operated using GaN," Amano said. "The challenges we are still facing include cost and reliability of the equipment. We want to create a vehicle that people want to use."

The group is seeking to install the inverter in vehicles for sale from about 2025.

While a green buggy prototype was made for the test runs, the vehicle to be displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show will be blue to honor Amano for his work on developing the more energy-efficient and eco-friendly blue LEDs.