Phononic, a startup focused on semiconductor materials that can turn waste heat into power and others that produce cooling, has closed on $21 million in new venture capital financing.

Leading the new round of funding is China-based Tsing Capital.

Phononic, which is now based in Durham, plans to establish a presence in Asia with some of the new capital.

Existing investors Venrock and Oak Investment Partners, which had led the firm’s Series B round of $10 million, also participated.

Phononic had raised $2 million in its first round of institutional backing and has also received $3 million in federal funding.

The firm also says it will expand its engineering team and move from pilot manufacturing to volume production/

“Phononic is doing something truly disruptive,” said Ian Zhu a partner at Tsing who joins Phononic’s board as part of the deal. “We believe Asia, particularly China, presents a huge opportunity for Phononic to improve the energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of refrigerators and window-mounted air conditioners, and Tsing is ready to help Phononic enter this market.”

Phononic is developing Thermoelectric Coolers that use electricity for removal of heat for cooling and Thermoelectric Generators that turn heat into power.

“Compressors are heavy, noisy, take up valuable space and require toxic coolants, yet they represent a multi-billion dollar refrigeration and window-mounted air conditioning market opportunity,” said Anthony Atti, the firm’s CEO. “This financing supports Phononic’s goal of becoming the leading global provider of compressor-free, solid-state refrigeration and cooling solutions.”

The company had been based at N.C. State’s Centennial Campus. It was initially named Phononic Devices. 

Phononic landed a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy in November 2009.

“With the help of ARPA-E we’ve proven that our advanced semiconductor materials and engineering approach are ideal for high efficiency cooling and refrigeration and low grade waste heat recovery for power generation,” Atti said at that time. “Our goal now is to accelerate the go-to-market roll out for our manufacturing-friendly modules.”

The company launched in 2009.