B. Jayant Baliga, North Carolina State University
B. Jayant Baliga is a highly recognized expert on power semiconductor devices that have enriched the lives of people across the globe while enabling a sustainable society with reduced energy consumption and carbon emission. While working for General Electric in the 1980s, Baliga invented a power-saving switch that prevents carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
The insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) is a semiconductor device that is known for high efficiency and fast switching in controlling electrical power. It is widely used in consumer, industrial, transportation, aircraft, defense, medical and renewable energy generation applications. Some specific examples include:
1. Automobile Electronic Ignition Systems (AEIS):
More than one billion IGBTs have been used in AEIS to improve the precision, reliability and efficiency when compared to prior mechanical distributor/breaker units. U.S. consumers benefited from reduced gasoline usage (1990-2009) by 310 billion gallons resulting in cost savings of over $500 billion.
2. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV):
The IGBT is used in hybrid-electric cars for the efficient control of power from the battery to the electric motors. More than 1 million U.S. consumers use HEVs for commuting, reducing urban pollution.
3. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL):
The IGBT is used in the electronic ballasts for CFLs due to its small form factor and high temperature operating capability, reducing power consumption. This invention has saved consumers $10 billion per year in electricity costs, has reduced carbon emission by 130 billion pounds per year and saved $75 billion in power plant installations due to smaller electricity demands.
4. Adjustable Speed Motor Drives (ASMD):
The IGBT enabled development of ASMDs in the 1980s, improving their efficiency by over 30% resulting in reduced power consumption, saving the consumer $60 billion per year in electricity costs. In addition, U.S. utilities saved $75 billion in power plant installations due to the smaller electricity demands.
5. Compact Portable Defibrillator (CPD):
The IGBT enabled the development of CPD units, which can be carried on airplanes, distributed in buildings, and carried by paramedics. The American Medical Association has declared over 100,000 lives per year are saved in the U.S. due to this technology.
6. Renewable Energy Generation:
The IGBT is an essential component in wind-power and solar-power energy generation systems. IGBT-based inverters are used for homes, offices, and factories, having a favorable impact on our nation’s future energy independence.
Baliga has received numerous awards and honors, and was named by Scientific American as one of eight heroes of the semiconductor revolution. He has authored numerous books and scientific articles and he has been awarded over 100 U.S. patents. (Photo from White House ceremony courtesy of Ryan K. Morris/National Science & Technology Medals Foundation.)