Funded by the
The institute led by
"We are very excited to be part of the national network for manufacturing innovation, focused on the development of next-generation power electronics," said Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, senior vice president for
The energy department is awarding
ASU's research for the consortium will be supported by a five-year, multimillion-dollar program.
The Obama administration plans to establish three manufacturing institutes as part of an effort to secure U.S. leadership worldwide. This consortium is the first of the three institutes.
Chowdhury is an assistant professor and Ayyanar is an associate professor in the
"We are proud to be part of this major national initiative that recognizes the accomplishments and promise of our faculty and students," says
Chowdhury will focus on development of gallium nitride-based power electronic devices for energy-efficient power conversion. "The main goal is to develop a technology that can be readily adopted by industries for high-volume manufacturing," she says.
Ayyanar will focus on applications of devices and develop medium voltage high power converters - particularly for renewable-energy interface and motor drive - using Silicon Carbide-based materials.
Their research will be essential to the consortium's primary engineering mission to provide technology for more efficient and reliable power conversion - the process of converting one form of power to another.
Power conversion is necessary for the functioning of many common electronic devices, from charging laptop computers, cell phones and electric vehicles to powering the electrical systems in homes. It is also needed to provide an interface between sources of renewable energy and the existing national power grid.
Most of today's power conversion is accomplished with a silicon-based technology that has reached the limits of its capability to convert power efficiently, Chowdhury explains.
The inefficiency of the current power conversion process results in enormous amounts of wasted power, she says. Chowdhury, Ayyanar and their consortium partners will use silicon carbide and gallium nitride, the two leading wide-bandgap semiconductors, to significantly out-perform the current technology in efficiency and minimize power waste.
Wide-bandgap semiconductors can operate at higher temperatures than silicon-based technologies, thus providing better durability and reliability at higher voltages - improving performance while using less electricity.
Such advances would not only make power conversion more efficient, but enable motors, consumer electronics and devices that are components of electrical power grids to be made smaller and operate faster.
ASU's involvement with the new institute will give engineering faculty members an opportunity to give students training in power electronics based on the research consortium's progress, Chowdhury says.
Companies that are part of the institute are ABB, APEI, Avogy, Cree, Delphi, Delta Products, DfR Solutions, Gridbridge, Hesse Mechantronics,
Member universities, in addition to ASU and
Announcements about awards for two more national manufacturing institutes are expected in coming weeks. Last year President
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