Multidisciplinary team wins Minnesota Futures grant

A multidisciplinary team comprising experts from ECE (professors Jungwon Choi, Sairaj Dhople, and Steven Koester), Department of Mechanical Engineering (Prof. Xiaojia Wang who is also lead PI), and Institute on the Environment (Ellen Anderson) have been awarded the Minnesota Futures grant by the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research.

The electrical power systems landscape has been changing rapidly: renewable forms of energy, energy storage devices, flexible loads, and electric vehicles are some of the key drivers of the change. Power electronics play a critical role in this changing landscape, and wide-bandgap semiconductor devices provide size, efficiency, and cost advantages compared to conventional devices for high voltage applications. However, fabricating and integrating these semiconductor devices within circuits still pose several engineering and performance challenges, and the emerging nature of the technology means that there are economic and policy issues that are yet to be anticipated.

The grant winning project will engineer thin films from ß-Ga2O3 (a form of gallium trioxide, a wide-bandgap semiconductor) to be tested and used in power electronics circuits, and evaluate the technical and economic challenges and opportunities posed by such semiconductors and the circuits they are used in, in Minnesota-based industries. To meet the project’s goals, the team will comprise experts across diverse disciplines: faculty from ECE will provide expertise on devices (Steven Koester), circuits (Jungwon Choi) and algorithms (Sairaj Dhople), lead PI Prof. Wang will contribute her expertise on materials, and the legal and policy issues will be explored and evaluated by Ellen Anderson.

The Minnesota Futures Grant Program is offered annually by the Office of the Vice President for Research. The program advances new, collaborative research by fostering opportunities for researchers to cross disciplinary and professional boundaries and respond to emerging interdisciplinary research and scholarship.