Photonically-Controlled SiC based Device Technology for Power Electronic Applications

Period of Performance: 03/19/2009 - 12/19/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Arkansas Power Electronics International
535 W. Research Center Blvd., Suite 209
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Principal Investigator


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks the development of an optically-triggered silicon carbide based power device technology that will enable the next-generation of EMI/EMP-resistant power electronics systems and ultimately the implementation of advanced concepts such as Fly-by-light (FBL). To develop the proposed technology Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc. (APEI, Inc.) has formed an alliance with the Laboratory for Energy and Switching-Electronics Systems (LESES) at The University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). APEI, Inc. is a world leader in the development of SiC-based power electronics systems and advanced SiC power packaging while the LESES at UIC is the leading research and development group in the area of high-frequency, high-responsivity photonic device structure. The team will demonstrate the proposed technology by fabrication, packaging and characterization of an optically-triggered SiC-based power device prototype at the end of Phase I. BENEFIT: Aircraft power electronic systems are shielded from EMI/EMP sources to prevent the malfunction of those systems under normal (or abnormal) EMI/EMP events. This shielding generality translate into heavier and bulkier power electronic systems that are expensive and take more footprint space. As power electronic systems increase its role in many aircraft functions, the weight and complexity added by the shielding requirement becomes a limiting factor in the design of new aircraft concepts. FBL control technologies seek, among other things, to minimize the EMI/EMP shielding requirements of the power electronics system by utilizing the inherent immunity of photonic technology to electromagnetic emissions. The U.S. Air Force has estimated that FBL technology could reduce weight of flight control system by as much as 25%, volume by as much as 30%, cooling by nearly 40%, and cost by over 25%.