UC Santa Barbara is one of several institutions participating in investigation and innovation at the Next Generation Power Electronics Institute, a newly established research and manufacturing hub aimed at strengthening the U.S. economy.
President Obama announced the establishment of this new public-private partnership in remarks made at North Carolina State University (NCSU), the lead university and headquarters of this new consortium.
“This has to be a year of action,” said the president, commenting on his administration’s push to help the country recover from the lean years of the nation’s worst economy since the Great Depression. “Manufacturing is a bright spot in this economy.”
Tying innovation and research to business, the Next Generation Power Electronics Institute is a federally funded institute composed of 18 companies and seven universities and labs working together to further develop and commercialize wide bandgap semiconductors — semiconductor materials that are emerging as the future of power electronics for their energy efficiency, durability and reliability at higher voltages and frequencies. Further development of these semiconductors has the potential for smaller, faster, cheaper and more efficient devices, from smartphones to electric cars, to more responsive and flexible power grids.
Mishra, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCSB, is recognized worldwide for his contributions to the development of gallium nitride (GaN) electronics. As one of several directors in the new consortium, his efforts will focus on leading the thrust for research and development of highly efficient GaN-based wide bandgap semiconductors. “This is just a first step,” said Mishra. “I think this institute is going to cause more excitement, more synergies, and people will become more fluent with what we can do.”
“We’re thrilled to be part of this,” said Rod Alferness, dean of UCSB’s College of Engineering. “It reflects the high level of esteem and regard that the work here in gallium nitride-based electronics is held here in the community and at the corporate level.”