Renewable Energy Thrust Nets GeneSiC Semiconductor $1.5M From DOE

November 17, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded GeneSiC Semiconductor two separate grants totaling $1.5 million for the development of high-voltage silicon carbide (SiC) devices that will serve as key enablers for wind- and solar-power integration with the nation’s electricity grid.

"These awards demonstrate the DOE’s confidence in GeneSiC’s capabilities, as well as its commitment to alternative energy solutions," noted Dr. Ranbir Singh, President of GeneSiC. "An integrated, efficient power grid is critical to the nation’s energy future – and the SiC devices we’re developing are critical for overcoming the inefficiencies of conventional silicon technologies."

The first award is a $750k Phase II SBIR grant for the development of fast, ultra-high-voltage SiC bipolar devices. The second is a $750k Phase II STTR grant for the development of optically gated high-power SiC switches.

Silicon carbide is a next-generation semiconductor material with the ability to handle 10x the voltage and 100x the current of silicon, making it ideally suited to high-power applications such as renewable energy (wind and solar) installations and electrical-grid control systems.

Specifically, the two awards are for: development of high-frequency, multi-kilovolt SiC gate-turn-off (GTO) power devices. Government and commercial applications include power-management and -conditioning systems for ships, the utility industry, and medical imaging; and the design and fabrication of optically gated high-voltage, high-power SiC switching devices. Using fiber-optics to switch power is a suitable solution for environments plagued by electro-magnetic interference (EMI), and applications that require ultra high-voltages.