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Columbia Engineering wins $3 million ARPA-E grant to raise efficiency, lower cost of power grid
Date:1/9/2014

A research team led by Ken Shepard, professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering, has won a $3 million three-year grant from the U.S. Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) for research targeted at developing next-generation power conversion devices that could dramatically transform how power is controlled and converted throughout the grid. His award is one of 14 that are receiving a total of $27 million from the agency's SWITCHES program (Strategies for Wide-Bandgap, Inexpensive Transistors for Controlling High-Efficiency Systems) to find innovative ways to lower the cost and improve the efficiency of power electronics.

In modern energy infrastructure, existing power electronics are based on decades-old technologies and rely on expensive and bulky components. To address these inefficiencies, SWITCHES seeks to lower the cost and improve the energy efficiency of power switching devices used in a variety of power-conversion applications, including data centers, electrical vehicles, and photovoltaics.

"We are really excited to win this funding," says Shepard, who, working with colleagues at MIT, IBM, and Veeco Instruments, is developing a new method to fabricate vertical gallium nitride (GaN) devices in a low-cost matter that would be compatible with traditional silicon semiconductor manufacturing. "We have assembled a world-class industrial-academic team bringing together expertise in circuits, devices, and materials."

He notes that Moore's Law scaling, which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years, has had tremendous impact on the design of communications and computation devices, allowing smaller, cheaper, and higher performance systems. However, power electronicselectronics that are responsible for the delivery of energyhave largely been unaffected by these trends.

"One of the reasons power electronics have not benefi
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Contact: Holly Evarts
holly.evarts@columbia.edu
347-453-7408
Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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Columbia Engineering wins $3 million ARPA-E grant to raise efficiency, lower cost of power grid
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