EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics
University of Nottingham
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Impact Acceleration Awards

A Heterogeneous Platform for GaN Power Electronics (Het-GaN)

Professor Merlyne DeSouza, University of Sheffield

This project explores a solution for “Integrated Control functionality via multi-wafer integration of power and logic functions” as a means of achieving “power conversion at frequencies greater than 20 MHz” in GaN. This topic has recently been identified as second amongst the grand challenges by PEUK [“Driving Innovation in Power Electronics across the UK Community”, 28/03/2017].

GaN has the capability to reduce dissipation in power applications by upto 40-80% by replacing silicon as the semiconductor material. However, applications with discrete GaN power devices are currently restricted by their extremely high voltage and current slew rates, that cannot be controlled by slower silicon gate drivers. Gate drivers in GaN do not exist, because the poor inherent mobility of holes (20 cm2/Vs) makes high speed CMOS in GaN a challenge.

This project will allow investigation of an integration platform of GaN and silicon on sapphire, based on an exploration of (111) and (110) oriented silicon on (1000) sapphire that will ultimately pave way to develop integrated power and logic circuits on the same wafer. The UK has a strong economy in GaN, from wafer growth to manufacture. Alongside UK’s leadership in automotive and space makes for compelling reasons in explore this technology. 

A robust, compact, high-efficient, soft-switched AC chopper for smart residential distribution network using SiC power electronics

Dr Arash Amiri, Loughborough University

This research will develop a soft-switched version of an existing Power Electronic Converter (PEC). The existing PEC fits inside the electric meter-box of a house and is used to reduce the supply from 400V to 230V. The higher supply voltage (400V), allows the existing underground cables to carry much higher power, which is now needed to meet the increased use of electric vehicles (EVs) and the switch to electric heating.

A soft-switched PEC allows its size, weight and cost to be significantly reduced. Size and weight are an issue due to the constraints imposed by the meter-box location.

The current solution to increasing electricity demand is to upgrade underground cables. However, this is a much higher-cost solution than the PEC and is disruptive to the public and business. The PEC will form part of the so-called smart-electrical-grid, which is forecast to save £19 billion in  UK grid costs and boost exports by £5 billion. This project will lead to job creation (an average of 8000-9000 by 2030) and is a key enabler for the wide-scale introduction of EVs and Distributed Generation (DG). It plays a key role in the reduction of CO2 emissions and improving the security of energy supply.


EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics

Email: correspondence@powerelectronics.ac.uk