Electrical engineering researchers receive best paper award


By Sarah Small

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three Penn State electrical engineering researchers were recently awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Electron Devices Technology and Manufacturing (EDTM) Conference first-place best paper award.

The paper was authored by Sang-Woo Han, lead author and assistant research professor of electrical engineering, and co-authors Jianan Song, electrical engineering doctoral student, and Rongming Chu, Thomas and Sheila Roell Early Career Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering.

“This award is a recognition of the high-quality, cutting-edge research conducted by Professor Chu and his group,” said Kultegin Aydin, professor and department head of electrical engineering.

According to Chu, the IEEE EDTM selects the best papers based on the quality of the paper as rated by peer reviewers and recognizes these papers at the organization’s annual conference. This year, the conference was held April 8-11 in Chengdu, China, and virtually.

The Penn State authors’ paper, “GaN Super-Heterojunction Schottky Barrier Diode with over 10 kV Blocking Voltage,” describes the research progress of Chu’s research group with deploying novel technology that has the potential to enable management of power flow on the electric grid with better controllability and higher efficiency.

“Power electronics are an essential part of the grid infrastructure,” Chu said. “A major bottleneck of today’s grid-level power electronics is the lack of a power switch capable of fast switching and high-voltage handling simultaneously. Wide bandgap semiconductors have shown fast-switching capability in low-voltage power electronics. However, there have been significant challenges in upscaling the voltage.”

Chu’s research group has demonstrated the possibility of a fast-switching gallium nitride semiconductor structure that could be scaled to voltages needed by the grid.

“We are excited about what we are seeing from this technology,” Chu said. “We thank our sponsoring agency, Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, for investing in this high-risk research.”


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Rongming Chu, Thomas and Sheila Roell Early Career Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. IMAGE: PENN STATE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING