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PowerAmerica Funds New wide bandgap Projects

Six new member projects range from module design to new university teaching labs

The PowerAmerica Institute at North Carolina (NC) State University, a member of Manufacturing USA, has awarded funding to six new member projects that will enhance wide bandgap technologies in the US. In addition, PowerAmerica has awarded funding for 20 projects to be led by existing members for a total of $20 million in project funding for this cycle.

"These projects are instrumental in fulfilling PowerAmerica's mission of accelerating the adoption of wide bandgap technologies into power electronics systems. 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," said PowerAmerica deputy executive director and CTO Victor Veliadis.

The new member projects receiving funding are:

Wide bandgap power modules for next generation systems

GE Aviation Systems and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will work together to design and produce advanced wide bandgap power modules made with SiC and GaN. The goal of this project is to enable true engine coolant temperature-grade equipment which is required to support next generation defence systems as well as commercial transportation, wind and solar, while reducing overall system costs.

Dual-inductor hybrid converter for direct 48V to sub-1V DC-DC module

A team at UC Boulder will design and implement a GaN-based, novel converter with an increased density of ten times that 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 centres, cellular base stations, portable applications, and defence systems.

Devices for solid-state circuit breaking at the medium voltage level

A team at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC) will test a functioning prototype of a medium voltage (3.3 kv) SiC solid-state circuit breaker. The use of SiC in the product 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 bi-directional switch

Infineon will develop a low-cost, 600V bidirectional 70mOhm switch based on the company's CoolGaN HEMT technology, capitalising on the unique bidirectional 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.

Graduate wide bandgap semiconductor power device lab

A team at NCSU will establish a graduate laboratory course focused entirely on the design, fabrication, and characterisation of wide bandgap power devices, and disseminate the curriculum to PowerAmerica members to accelerate the education of new engineers.

Power electronics teaching lab incorporating wide bandgap switches and circuits

Researchers at 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.

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 SiC and GaN in power electronics systems. The institute, located at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, is funded by the Department of Energy, industry partners and the state of North Carolina, and has a member portfolio representing more than 45 companies in the wide bandgap semiconductor field.

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