Unlocking Lasting Transformative Resiliency Advances by Faster Actuation of power Semiconductor Technologies

Electrical Efficiency

Release Date:
Project Count:

Program Description:

The Unlocking Lasting Transformative Resiliency Advances by Faster Actuation of power Semiconductor Technologies (ULTRAFAST) program seeks to develop and demonstrate next-generation ultra-fast power semiconductors for advanced system-level power electronics converters that would bring significant improvements in reliability, resiliency, and control of the power grid. Specifically, ULTRAFAST projects will create faster-switching higher-rated device and power module technologies that enable realization of transformative power management, protection, and control not only for the grid, but also for future green autonomous power distribution systems such as those for electric vehicles, all-electric aviation, and more.

Innovation Need:

Our electric grid faces a variety of challenges, including aging infrastructure, an increased frequency of severe weather events, and emerging cyber and physical threats —ultimately resulting in power disruptions that cost the U.S. over $150 billion each year. These power disruptions produce major health and economic impacts for Americans, who experienced an average of seven hours in disruptions in 2021 alone. Along with the need to update our aging energy infrastructure, the demand for electricity is rapidly increasing as the U.S. strives to achieve Net Zero Emissions (NZE) by 2050. In order to achieve decarbonization goals, electrification of everything from transportation to industrial processes to urban infrastructure is needed, meaning that our power systems must grow 60% by 2030 and more than three-fold by 2050 to keep up with the demand. The ULTRAFAST program seeks to provide power electronics technology innovations that will enable a more secure and reliable grid, while also allowing it to meet higher demands for electricity in pursuit of decarbonization goals.

Potential Impact:

This program supports ARPA-E mission goals to improve resilience, reliability, and security of energy infrastructure; improve energy efficiency; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; reduce reliance on imports; and maintain U.S. leadership in energy technologies.


ULTRAFAST projects will enable a more protected and controlled grid, directly enhancing the overall resiliency, reliability, and security of the electric energy infrastructure, while drastically reducing U.S. reliance on imported energy.


ULTRAFAST projects will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through enabling the electrification of everything from transportation to industrial processes to urban infrastructure, playing a significant role in decarbonization efforts.


In addition to creating U.S. jobs, ULTRAFAST projects will allow for the eventual lowered cost of electric energy.


Program Director:
Dr. Olga Spahn;Dr. Laurent Pilon
Press and General Inquiries Email:

Project Listing

• GaNify - Medium-Voltage Optoelectronic Power IC Building Block
• Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) - Scalable Wide-Bandgap III-Nitride Switch (SWiNS)
• Great Lakes Crystal Technologies - High Power Diamond Transistors with Electrical and Optical Gate Control
• Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) - Diamond Optically Gated Junction Field Effect Transistor
• Opcondys - Ultrafast, Autonomous Grid Protection Using Linear Photonic Switching
• RTX Technology Research Center - TRIGER: Timed RF Integrated Gating for Energy Regulation
• Sandia National Laboratories - E1-Arrester for Improved EMP Protection
• Texas Tech University - Ultrawide-Bandgap Semiconductors for Extrinsic Photoconductive Switching Devices
• University of Arkansas - Heterogeneously Integrated Power Modules
• University of Buffalo - Optically Cascoded Ultrahigh Voltage Gallium Oxide Devices for Modular Multi-Converter
• University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Optically Controlled 20 kV Gallium Oxide Power Switches for Grid Resiliency
• University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) - Diamond PCSS: DIAMOND PhotoConductive Semiconductor Switches
• University of Pennsylvania - All-Optical Control of Isolated High Voltage Power Systems Using Integrated Electronic, Photonic, and Microfabricated Sensing and Breaker Technology
• University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) - A UNIVERSAL (Ultrafast, Noise-Immune, Versatile, Efficient, Reliable, Scalable, and Accurate Light-Controlled) Switch Module
• University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) - Optically Triggered Ultrawide-Bandgap (UWBG) Power Electronics