PowerAmerica Sponsors New STEM Boy Scouts Initiative at N.C. State


PowerAmerica Executive Director Nick Justice signs the paperwork establishing the new Stem Scouts partnership

In keeping with its mission of building a United States manufacturing workforce through education, PowerAmerica is sponsoring the establishment of North Carolina’s first STEM Scouts program at the Science House on Centennial Campus in conjunction with the Occoneechee Council, Boy Scouts of America. This new, co-ed program will give boys and girls grades 3-12 in the Triangle a fun way of discovering science, technology, engineering and math with activities that supplement classroom learning.

STEM Scouts uses a curriculum developed by scientists and engineers and vetted by professional educators, coupled with the leadership and teamwork values of Scouting. STEM Scouts will have the opportunity to work directly with STEM experts from N.C. State and PowerAmerica through weekly meetings that cover a variety of disciplines. This exciting new program is designed to be fast paced, thought provoking, and fun.

Additionally, STEM Scouts at the high school level are provided the opportunity to have their work peer-reviewed by scientists and engineers and published, helping to increase their chances for college scholarships and program admissions.

“Partnering with this innovative new scouting program for both boys and girls is a great opportunity to introduce young people to the excitement of engineering and science, while bringing them to an awareness of what’s in store for their generation. We view participants as a critical component of preparing our nation for the energy demands of the future,” said PowerAmerica Executive Director Nick Justice.

“In true Scouting tradition, STEM Scouts not only improves STEM literacy and teaches life skills, but also develops positive qualities of character, citizenship, and leadership in young people. We are very excited to partner with PowerAmerica to help young people in grades 3-12 explore and develop a lifelong curiosity and engagement of the STEM fields,” said John Akerman, Scout Executive and CEO of Occoneechee Council, Boy Scouts of America.

About Occoneechee Council, Boy Scouts of America

Occoneechee Council, Boy Scouts of America provides North Carolina’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be “Prepared. For Life. ®” Occoneechee Council is comprised of over 21,000 youth and adult members in Chatham, Cumberland, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Vance, Wake, and Warren Counties.

PowerAmerica Unveils 1200-V MOSFET and 1200-V Integrated MOSFET/JBS SiC Fabrication Processes

slide1PowerAmerica has developed baseline 1200-V MOSFET and 1200-V Integrated MOSFET/JBS SiC fabrication processes at XFAB’s 150mm SiC foundry in Lubbock, Texas that can significantly accelerate development of a company’s wide bandgap technology offerings.

The processes have successfully yielded Inversion-mode and Accumulation-mode 1.2 kV SiC Power MOSFETs as well as 1200-V SiC Integrated MOSFET/JBS devices at XFAB.

“Even in a company that employs experts on silicon power devices and electronics, it can take engineers a long time to work out the design and processing details of a SiC device. The PowerAmerica processes shorten the development cycle, saving companies time and money in getting their products ready for market,” said PowerAmerica CTO Victor Veliadis.

According to Veliadis, the PowerAmerica model provides basic processes that companies entering the SiC industry can tailor to their specifications.

“If a company wants to fabricate a SiC power device, they can run our 1.2kV SiC MOSFET production process, and then modify it to their specifications,” Veliadis said.

The PowerAmerica devices exhibit on-resistance, threshold voltage, leakage current, and breakdown voltage competitive with commercially available devices.

Learn more about the process here.

Join Us for PowerAmerica’s Monthly Technical Webinar Series Wednesday, Nov. 2

Dr. Jin Wang of the Ohio State University will speak about the challenges of gate drive design for high voltage applications and possible approaches to handling high insulation voltage and high common mode noise during PowerAmerica’s monthly technical webinar series from noon to 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Li’s presentation is titled, “Challenges and Progresses of Gate Drive Designs for High Voltage SiC Devices.”

Dr. Wang is an associate professor with the Center for High Performance Power Electronics in the Ohio State University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He previously worked at the Ford Motor Company, where he contributed to the traction drive design of the Ford Fusion Hybrid. He has over 100 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications and six patents.  Read his full biography here.

Abstract: Challenges and Progresses of Gate Drive Designs for High Voltage SiC Devices 

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PowerAmerica Member AgileSwitch Receives Patent for Game-Changing Wide Bandgap Control Technology

atoffWith support from PowerAmerica, member AgileSwitch has applied a new patented switching technique to provide enhanced control in high-power SiC applications.

The Augmented Turn-Off (ATOff™) technique addresses two significant impediments to the successful implementation of silicon carbide modules in high-power applications. By reducing both turn-off spikes and ringing both under normal operation as well as short-circuit conditions (DSAT), SiC MOSFET modules can be operated in the higher frequencies that enable dramatic increases in power conversion density.

“For us, it’s about making sure the devices operate as efficiently, reliably and safely as possible. The ultimate goal is to get the most out of these devices, since they are still emerging in the market and relatively expensive compared to non-wide bandgap alternatives – it’s important that every bit of performance can be extracted,” said AgileSwitch CEO Rob Weber.

The ATOff™ technology has been incorporated into AgileSwitch’s first SiC gate drive assembly, called the EconoDual Electrical Master 3 (EDEM3). The EDEM3 has applications for solar inverters, wind turbine technology, electric vehicles and other clean energy applications.

PowerAmerica funding enabled AgileSwitch to implement its patented technique into EDEM3 evaluation systems and test the capabilities of the drivers and switches – often one of the costliest and time-consuming parts of getting a new product ready for market.

AgileSwitch hopes its ATOff™ technique will help accelerate the widespread commercial adoption of wide bandgap devices. Already, the company is seeing plenty of interest from various companies, partly due to connections it has made through PowerAmerica.

“PowerAmerica has helped us significantly with introductions to potential customers at the university, government lab and industrial levels. From our involvement, we have a long list of customers that we’re now working with,” Weber said.

PowerAmerica Hosts Japanese Delegation, Including Nobel Laureate

30331368682_f423a62dc1_zPowerAmerica recently had the honor of hosting a delegation of professors and administrators from Nagoya University in Japan, including Dr. Hiroshi Amano, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014 for “the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.” The purpose of the visit was to explore future opportunities in the fields of power electronics and wide bandgap semiconductors.

Amano gave a lecture to an audience of more than 300 on the subject, “Nitride Semiconductor Devices for Society 5.0.” Additionally, the team toured the PowerAmerica headquarters and other on campus facilities during their visit.

Read more about the delegation’s visit here.

PowerAmerica Member Monolith Announces 1200V SiC Diode Samples

Monolith Semiconductor, Texas-based startup and PowerAmerica member, has announced the availability of engineering samples of 1200V, 5A and 10A SiC Schottky diodes in TO-220 packaging. The diodes, which reduce losses by more than 50 percent compared to silicon diodes, are manufactured at X-Fab Texas’ 150mm SiC foundry.

According to the company, the collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and PowerAmerica has been key in achieving this milestone.

“DOE and PowerAmerica have taken the baton and supported XFab to create a center of excellence in SiC manufacturing in the U.S.,” said Monolith CEO Sujit Banerjee.

 Funding from DOE and PowerAmerica enabled XFab, a former silicon foundry, to reconfigure its equipment in order to fabricate silicon carbide power electronic devices.  Today, more than six U.S. companies are using the new capability.

Read Monolith’s full press release.

Building a Manufacturing Ecosystem for Clean Energy


PowerAmerica Deputy Director John Muth penned a recent blog post featured on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s website for National Manufacturing Day. His essay is titled, “Building a Manufacturing Ecosystem for Clean Energy.” Check out the full post here.

Join Us for PowerAmerica’s Monthly Technical Webinar Series Wednesday, Oct. 5


Dr. Hui “Helen” Li  of Florida State University will speak about research she is leading to develop a small, lightweight, more efficient SiC photovoltaic inverter during PowerAmerica’s monthly technical webinar series from noon to 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Li’s presentation is titled, “50kW SiC Transformerless PV Inverter.”

Dr. Hui “Helen” Li is a professor with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in the Florida A&M University/Florida State University College of Engineering. She has also been a key member at the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) at FSU since 2002. Her research interests include DC-DC converters, cascaded multilevel inverters, as well as power electronics applications using wide bandgap devices. She is a recipient of the 2007 NSF Career Award and the 2014 Transaction Prize Paper Award from IEEE Transaction on Power Electronics. Currently she leads a FSU research team to develop a SiC PV converter sponsored by the PowerAmerica Institute.

Abstract: 50kW SiC Transformerless PV Inverter

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Federal Grant Will Help Grow PowerAmerica

The North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) has been awarded a two-year, $1 million federal grant to help cultivate the growth of the PowerAmerica Institute.

The grant, awarded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will enable NCMEP to work with PowerAmerica and its expanding network of project partners to grow the wide bandgap semiconductor technology sector, accelerate the production of valuable goods and services and develop industry-led skills strategies.

Embedding a highly-trained engineer within PowerAmerica will be one of the first items of business under the grant. In addition to serving as a valuable technical resource, the engineer will lead outreach and project development nationally to small- and medium-sized manufacturers in market sectors, like renewable energy and innovative transport systems, where WBG semiconductors could have the most impact.

“We are excited to work more closely with PowerAmerica in order to ensure that the development of this new technology includes our nation’s smaller manufacturers.  With this work, we will also learn more about the other Manufacturing USA institutes and how they can benefit our NC manufacturers,” says NCMEP Director Phil Mintz.

By the close of 2018, Mintz says that he expects to see development of many advanced manufacturing projects between PowerAmerica and small to medium-sized enterprises across the U.S.

Read the full news release here.

PowerAmerica Researcher Dr. Iqbal Husain Featured for Work with SiC EV Inverter

Iqbal_HusainIASN.C. State University is highlighting its own PowerAmerica-funded researcher Dr. Iqbal Husain for his work to design a smaller, more efficient electric vehicle inverter using off-the-shelf wide bandgap silicon carbide components. Read the full article here.

A paper on the new inverter, “Design Methodology for a Planarized High Power Density EV/HEV Traction Drive using SiC Power Modules,” will be presented at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE), being held Sept. 18-22 in Milwaukee.