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8 August 2018

PowerAmerica funds new projects to advance wide-bandgap technology in USA

© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.

The PowerAmerica institute – a member of Manufacturing USA – has awarded funding to six new member projects that aim to enhance wide-bandgap (WBG) technologies in the USA. In addition, PowerAmerica awarded funding for 20 projects to be led by existing members for a total of $20m in project funding for this cycle.

PowerAmerica aims to save energy and create US manufacturing jobs by accelerating the development and large-scale adoption of wide-bandgap semiconductor technology made with silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) in power electronics systems. Located at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, NC, the institute is funded by the Department of Energy, industry partners and the state of North Carolina, and has a member portfolio representing more than 45 leading companies in the wide-bandgap semiconductor field.

“These projects are instrumental in fulfilling PowerAmerica’s mission of accelerating the adoption of wide-bandgap technologies into power electronics systems,” says PowerAmerica’s deputy executive director & chief technology officer Victor Veliadis. “To date, the institute has funded scores of projects that have contributed to the development of more efficient power electronics, which will benefit a range of applications – from electric vehicles to data centers.”

The new member projects receiving funding are:

Module Development and Manufacturing

  • Design and Manufacture of Advanced Reliable WBG Power Modules
    GE Aviation Systems and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will work together to design and produce advanced wide-bandgap power modules made with silicon carbide and gallium nitride. The goal is to enable true engine coolant temperature-grade equipment which is required to support next-generation defense systems as well as commercial transportation, wind and solar, while reducing overall system costs.

Commercialization Applications

  • Dual-Inductor Hybrid Converter for Direct 48V to sub-1V PoL DC-DC Module
    A team at University of Colorado, Boulder will design and implement a GaN-based, novel converter with an increased density of 10 times of converters currently on the market, with up to three times lower power loss. The converter will have fewer components, simpler implementation and lower cost. It can be used for power delivery to data centers, cellular base stations, portable applications, and defense systems.
  • Introduction of WBG devices for Solid-State Circuit Breaking at the Medium Voltage Level
    A team at University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC) will test a functioning prototype of a medium-voltage (3.3kV) SiC solid-state circuit breaker. The use of silicon carbide will enable fast turn-off capability in the microsecond range or better, and superior efficiency compared to silicon. Market segments to be targeted include utility operators of the electricity distribution network.
  • 600V GaN Dual-gate Bi-directional Switch
    Infineon will develop a low-cost, 600V bi-directional 70mOhm switch based on its CoolGaN hgh-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT) technology, capitalizing on the unique bi-directional nature of the GaN HEMT. The project will validate both the dual-gate concept and a solution for substrate voltage stabilization, and will make the GaN switch more economically attractive compared to the standard silicon devices commonly used today.

Education and Workforce Development

  • Graduate Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Power Device Lab
    A team at North Carolina State University (NCSU) will establish a graduate laboratory course focused entirely on the design, fabrication, and characterization of wide-bandgap power devices, and disseminate the curriculum to PowerAmerica members to accelerate the education of new engineers.
  • Power Electronics Teaching Lab Incorporating WBG Semiconductor Switches and Circuits
    Researchers at University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC) will develop a modular, multi-function, educational high-frequency power electronics board with plug-and-play capability. The new board will give students the flexibility to perform different power electronics lab sessions and train undergraduate students as wide-bandgap power electronics engineers through hands-on experience and practical knowledge of WBG semiconductors in power electronics applications.

Tags: Power electronics

Visit: www.poweramericainstitute.org

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