Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Semiconductors that Improve Electricity Flow

HexaTech
Aluminum Nitride-Based Devices for High-Voltage Power Electronics
Image of HexaTech's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,807,237
Location: 
Morrisville, NC
Project Term: 
02/05/2013 to 05/31/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
In today's increasingly electrified world, power conversion--the process of converting electricity between different currents, voltage levels, and frequencies--forms a vital link between the electronic devices we use every day and the sources of power required to run them. Power converters modify electrical energy to a usable current, voltage, and frequency for an electronic device. Today's high-voltage power converters are large and inefficient because they are based on decades-old transformer technologies and rely on expensive, bulky, and failure-prone components. Old technology needs to be replaced with higher efficiency devices.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
HexaTech is developing new semiconductors for electrical switches that will more efficiently control the flow of electricity across high-voltage electrical lines. A switch helps control electricity: switching it on and off, converting it from one voltage to another, and converting it from an Alternating Current (A/C) to a Direct Current (D/C) and back. Most switches today use silicon or silicon-based semiconductors, which are not able to handle high voltages, fast switching speeds, or high operating temperatures. HexaTech has developed highest quality, single crystalline Aluminum Nitride (AlN) semiconductor wafers. HexaTech AlN wafers are the enabling platform for power converters which can handle 50 times more voltage than silicon, as well as higher switching speeds and operating temperatures.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, HexaTech's new semiconductors would significantly improve electric power transmission and create a more efficient and reliable grid.
Security: 
This project could contribute to a smarter, more reliable, more advanced, and more secure electric grid.
Environment: 
More efficient power conversion could help reduce U.S. electricity consumption, and in turn reduce the harmful emissions created by coal-fired power plants.
Economy: 
Efficient and affordable grid-scale power converters could help lower power bills for average consumers.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact: 
Dr. Baxter Moody
Partners
North Carolina State University
Release Date: 
11/28/2012