US-Irish partnership pioneers GaN nanostructures for power electronics

April 01, 2015 // By Paul Buckley
Ireland's Tyndall National Institute has partnered with US and Northern Irish research institutes to secure one million euros in funding to develop new ways of harnessing converted electricity.

The Nano-GaN Power Electronic Devices project is seeking to improve the efficiency of converting electrical power by up to 25 percent which represents a financial saving to the consumer and could reduce global carbon emissions. The issue is important to all the countries involved in this research, with Ireland in particular importing nearly 90 percent of its energy, leaving it vulnerable to changes in the international markets.

Working with Gallium Nitride (GaN), frequently used in LED lightbulbs and space satellites, the collaborators from Tyndall National Institute, Cork, Illinois Institute of Technology and Queens University Belfast, will look to stabilise the material so it can be used to convert high voltages to more manageable levels, without the current high energy losses. The technology is expected to have an impact on the development of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Prof Peter Parbrook, Stokes Professor of Nitride Materials & Devices at Tyndall National Institute said: "This will be the first time nanostructures using gallium nitride will be used for power electronics. We will attempt to bend out the material's defects, making it more stable and hence more reliable in the conversion process. It has the potential to produce significant energy saving efficiencies that will benefit people in the home and at work."

Nano-GaN is funded through the US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme, a single-proposal, single-review mechanism, which supports tri-jurisdictional projects. The project will employ four new post-doctorate positions across the three partners.

The US-Ireland Collaborative Research on Nano-GaN Power Electronic Devices (GaNnano) will be led by Prof Peter Parbrook and Anne-Marie Kelleher in Tyndall; Prof. John Shen at the Illinois Institute of Technology; and Dr Miryam Arredondo-Arechavala of Queens University Belfast.

Related articles and links:

www.tyndall.ie

News articles:

Tyndall National Institute captures snapshots of moving atoms under bursts of light

Atom scale simulation offers nanoscale film growth benefits