CIRCUITS project teams will accelerate the development and deployment of innovative electric power converters that save energy and give the United States a critical technological advantage in an increasingly electrified economy.
Power electronic devices condition, control, and convert electrical power to optimize the transmission, distribution, and consumption of electricity. Power electronics are of critical national importance – 80% of all U.S. electricity could pass through these devices by 2030. CIRCUITS projects leverage a new class of efficient, lightweight, and reliable power converters based on wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor technology, using materials like silicon carbide or gallium nitride instead of the silicon that is dominant today.
“Hardware built with WBG devices has the potential to be smaller, lighter, and much more energy-efficient, with applications across valuable sectors including transportation, information technology, the grid, and consumer electronics,” said ARPA-E Acting Director Dr. Eric Rohlfing. “Developments from CIRCUITS projects could one day lead to super-fast, compact electric vehicle chargers, more efficient ship propulsion systems, and lighter, aerodynamic aircraft that can carry more passengers with less fuel.”
WBG semiconductors allow devices to operate at significantly higher speeds, voltages, and temperatures than conventional semiconductor materials, and do so in smaller, lighter packages. Previous efforts by ARPA-E have focused primarily on WBG material and device development. CIRCUITS focuses on new circuit topologies and system designs, ensuring the performance benefits of these new WBG devices are maximized.