PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 30, 2013) –Representatives of the II-VI Foundation today announced a three-year, multi-university grant among Auburn, Purdue and Rutgers Universities supporting research and education designed to reduce energy consumption through greater electronics efficiency. This Cooperative Research Initiative was announced during a ceremony at Rutgers University Institute for Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology (IAMDN).
IAMDN Director Leonard C. Feldman is one of four leading scientists partnering for the advancement of silicon-carbide (SiC) based electronics, which offer the potential of far greater efficiency in transistors integral to energy production and distribution. The grant for up to $1,000,000 over the three-year period is provided by the II-VI Foundation, which will fund more than $3.5 million this year in college scholarships for science and engineering students, science camps for middle school students and over twenty graduate-level research projects like the ones being conducted at the three universities.
“An unexpected and exciting outcome from one of the Foundation’s Mini-Conferences in 2012 was a discussion among professors from Auburn, Purdue and Rutgers,” said Carl Johnson, Chairman of the II-VI Foundation. “They discovered a common interest in researching different aspects of the same topic. Commencing with the 2013 Block-Gift cycle, this first-ever II-VI Foundation Cooperative Research Initiative (CRI) will be launched. These three universities will be funded to collaborate on different approaches to a single, challenging research topic, taking advantage of the expertise of each. As with all of our Block-Gift Programs, the personal growth and skill development of the graduate students are of primary importance.”
The multi-university project will fund six graduate student researchers who will partner with faculty to achieve a better understanding of the physics and chemistry of the silicon-carbide energy interface integral to transmitting energy.
“The industrialized world is basically doubling its energy demand every 40 years and silicon- carbide based electronics offer a significant opportunity,” said Feldman, Director of IAMDN and a professor in Rutgers departments of Physics and Astronomy and Materials Science and Engineering. “Improving energy efficiency is the most important factor in having a real impact on energy consumption. Silicon-carbide based electronics offer a significant opportunity to impact utilization in energy dominant industries, particularly transportation and electricity generation and distribution.”
The principal investigators in the project include Feldman, Purdue University Professor James Cooper and Auburn University Professors Sarit Dhar and John Williams, who serves as the CRI Coordinator.
“Strongly aligned with a primary objective of the II-VI Foundation, our effort to educate and train young scientists and engineers in a leading, interdisciplinary technology development program for advanced power electronics is an investment in our country’s future,” Feldman said. “Such young people will form a pool of talent that our country must have to significantly increase the efficiency with which we use electrical energy, to hasten national energy independence and to maintain our nation’s scientific competitiveness.”
The single overall technical objective of the CRI is improving the silicon-carbide based transistors currently used for amplifying or switching electronic signals.
“The silicon-carbide transistors that are currently on the market are inefficient,” Feldman said. “We live in world of silicon technology with wonderful silicon devices, from smartphones to transistors for the switching of electronic signals. When we make silicon-carbide transistors so effective that they become a cost-effective option for industry, we will make real progress on energy consumption.”