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6 June 2014

ABB funds new power semiconductor professorship at ETH Zurich

ABB of Zurich, Switzerland, which focuses on electric power engineering and industrial automation, has granted 5m Swiss Francs to the ETH Zurich Foundation to support the development of high-performance power semiconductors, with the aim of improving the efficiency of power conversion systems and energy transmission over long distances as well as industrial solutions. The ETH Zurich Foundation acts as a bridge between companies, private individuals, foundations and ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) to help the university reach its strategic goals.

The funding from ABB Switzerland, which will be distributed over 10 years, creates a fourth professorship within the electrical energy initiative at ETH Zurich. It is aimed at not only boosting research and teaching but also supporting industrial partners with their work.

Power semiconductor research is becoming increasingly important, says ABB. Power electronics are used to shape electric current according to specific requirements, making it possible to control the speed of electric motors, enable trains to accelerate and decelerate gently, allow renewable energies to be integrated into the power grid, and electric vehicle batteries to be charged in just 15 minutes.

“This undertaking will pay dividends in the development of the electricity network of the future,” believes ABB’s CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. “We need to decouple economic growth from energy consumption,” he adds. “This contribution underscores ABB’s commitment to power and productivity.”

ABB (which invests $1.5bn annually in R&D) partners with universities worldwide as part of its mission of helping customers to reduce energy consumption and boost efficiency. With a history that spans nearly 160 years and 21 Nobel Prize winners, ETH Zurich is an ideal partner, states ABB.

ABB says that, with this donation, it strengthens the university’s initiative aimed at intensifying its electrical energy technology activities and bolstering its position in electrical energy research.

“This newly created post will expand educational opportunities for our students as well as aid research and development of new technologies and materials in an area which is crucial for Swiss energy policy,” says ETH’s president Ralph Eichler. “An important research focus for the new professorship will be the deployment of new semiconductors in the high-voltage electrical network of the future.”

ABB is already currently constructing a power electronics research laboratory near Baden in Switzerland, where staff are working on power semiconductor technologies. Further developments are also being pursued at ABB Semiconductors in nearby Lenzburg.

See related items:

ABB contributing $2.5m as partner in five-year Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute

Tags: Power electronics SiC

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