Wide-Bandgap Device and Packaging Research
NREL, in partnership with graduate student fellows from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), researches thermal and reliability aspects of wide-bandgap-based metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors and packages/modules.
NREL and Virginia Tech research thermal and reliability aspects of advanced wide-bandgap-based power modules. NREL collaborates with Virginia Tech to perform power cycling of emerging wide-bandgap devices.
Electrical precursor measurements during power cycling indicate reduction in performance from a new, healthy power module. These precursors change values when subjected to power cycling, and the change in precursor value predicts the remaining useful life of a module. This technique could be applied to other power electronic components beyond the power devices.
NREL advises the next generation of power electronics engineers on thermal and thermomechanical modeling and provides best practices on meshing, thermal finite element, and computational fluid dynamics modeling as well as other modeling aspects that directly benefit the participating graduate fellows.
Students under the traineeship are exposed to experimental and modeling techniques. They help build and conduct laboratory research experiments to investigate the reliability of advanced power electronics packaging strategies.
The research supports training of graduate students and the next generation of researchers with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office.
Beyond demonstrating the benefits of a collaboration between national laboratories and academia, this work can help improve power densities and optimize heterogeneous power module layouts through co-design of thermal and reliability aspects of power module development at an early stage, along with research on the electrical aspects.
Additionally, prognostics and health management techniques can reduce costs and improve reliability for electric-drive vehicles as well as other energy efficiency and renewable energy applications.
Learn more about NREL's power electronics and electric machines research.