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    Guest blog: Electric vehicles: less power to the driver

    February 24, 2017

    By Nagarajan Sridhar

    A couple of months ago, I got a chance to test-drive a new autonomous vehicle. My general observation: it was a computer on wheels! Because of the traction motor (a key characteristic of electric vehicles [EVs]), it was totally silent, with no whirring sound from the integrated circuit-based engine. Also memorable was experiencing autopilot mode, which is the predecessor to the autonomous driverless vehicular concept.

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      Silicon carbide on the road to automotive electrification

      By Majeed Ahmad | January 2, 2017

       

      Higher voltages and currents increase power density while reducing switching losses. Image courtesy of Infineon Technologies.

      The automotive industry has long been focusing on the higher efficiency of the combustion engine and electrification of the drivetrain in hybrid and fully electric vehicles to meet CO2 emission goals. Now we finally see a tipping point with a greater availability of silicon carbide (SiC) chips that offer extremely low power losses and higher temperature resistance.

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        Materials breakthrough will supercharge wide-bandgap semiconductors

        Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 12.28.23 PMIn a significant breakthrough, materials scientists at Pennsylvania State University have synthesized two-dimensional gallium nitride for the first time ever using a graphene encapsulation said to give the structure “superb electronic properties and strength to the resulting flat gallium nitride.” 

        The new materials will ultimately be used to create wide bandgap transistors and similar semiconductor devices designed to improve electrical energy efficiency.

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          We need a “Giga-fab” for Gallium Nitride. Somewhere.

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          A new technology promises a revolution in the efficient use of electrical power. If widely deployed, this technology could have a significant impact on climate change by reducing our dependence on fossil fuel in favor of renewable energy. It could enable discontinuous advances in communications, electric vehicles and medical diagnostic equipment.

          But it is still in its infancy, costly, and needs much development.