STTR Phase I: Differential-Mode High-Frequency GaN-on-Si PV Microinverter

Period of Performance: 01/01/2015 - 12/31/2015


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

NextWatt LLC
1635 westbury drive
hoffman estates, IL 60192
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Illinois, Chicago
809 S Marshfield RM 608
Chicago, IL 60612
Institution POC


The broader impact/commercial potential of this project encompasses key application areas of photovoltaic sustainable energy systems in residential and commercial power systems, with a projected multi-billion dollar global industry. From a business owner standpoint, the proposed microinverter will provide a significant advantage to photovoltaic power-conditioning companies both in terms of (a) enhanced profitability due to reduced microinvert cost and (b) superior performance parameters encompassing improved energy efficiency, higher durability, enhanced reliability, high power density, and simultaneous grid connectivity and source energy optimization. Further, the proposed technology is also extendable to (single- and three-phase) energy systems sourced by fuel cell, batteries, and wind as well. As such, the proposed system is expected to be of prime interest to key businesses. On a broader note, the proposed project brings together the expertise of a small business and an advanced research institution providing a pathway that is based on strong foundation of industry-university collaboration. This Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I project This STTR Phase I project will design and analyze a GaN-on-Si based novel photovoltaic (PV) microinverter and its power-stage subsystems, synthesize a unified model predictive control algorithm for simultaneous source energy optimization and grid connectivity, and perform comprehensive performance predictions of the microinverter. The GaN-on-Si technology provides an optimal balance between low-cost, high performance, and high power density for the microinverter. A direct power conversion mechanism for the microinverter alleviates the high-voltage dc-link electrolytic capacitor thereby yielding higher long-term reliability, reduced cost, and reduced space. The compact architecture microinverter architecture and the reduced device count of the power stage provide a seamless and modular pathway for power scalability for future multi-phase and/or high power needs.