16 February 2022
ARPA-E’s OPEN 2021 program awards $4.5m funding to MIT
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $175m for 68 research and development projects aimed at developing novel advanced energy technologies.
Led by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the OPEN 2021 program prioritizes funding high-impact, high-risk technologies that support novel approaches. The selected projects—spanning 22 states and coordinated at universities, national laboratories, and private companies—will advance technologies for a wide range of areas, including electric vehicles, offshore wind, storage and nuclear recycling.
Ranging from technologies such as revolutionizing fuel cells for light- and heavy-duty vehicles to generating less nuclear waste and reducing the cost of fuel, the OPEN 2021 projects include $4,521,601 for ‘8" GaN-on-Si Super Junction Devices for Next Generation Power Electronics’, in which Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will develop a new generation of power electronics based on vertical gallium nitride (GaN) super-junction diodes and transistors that can vastly exceed the performance of existing GaN power devices.
The new super-junction structure will surpass the theoretical trade-off between on-resistance and breakdown voltage observed in conventional unipolar GaN, leading to more efficient and cheaper power converters. These new GaN power devices should enable the next generation of low-cost, fast, small and reliable power electronics, which are key for efficient power conversion in data centers, solar farms, power grids and electric vehicles (EVs).
Among the first of billions of dollars for R&D opportunities that DOE announced last year to address the climate crisis, OPEN 2021 is ARPA-E’s latest installment of the OPEN program. The first four iterations — 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018 — awarded more than $600m in funding to 225 projects working to achieve breakthroughs in commercializing a variety of energy solutions, including in the development of transformative solar, geothermal, batteries, biofuels and advanced surface-coating technologies.
Since its founding in 2009, ARPA-E has provided $2.93bn in R&D funding, and ARPA-E projects have attracted more than $7.6bn in private-sector follow-on funding to commercialize clean energy technologies.