Associated Laboratories and Centers:
Center for Power Electronics Systems
Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and
Nanotechnology (MicrON) Group
Wireless Microsystems Laboratory
for Power Electronics Systems (CPES)
Fred Lee, Director
Dushan Boroyevich, Deputy Director
Daan van Wyk
Established in August 1998, CPES is one of the nation's relatively
few NSF engineering research centers. Members of CPES include
five universities, 25 core faculty members, and 90 industrial
partners. The other four CPES universities are the University
of Wisconsin-Madison, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, North
Carolina A&T State University, and the University of Puerto
Financial support for CPES during its first two years of operation
exceeded $20 million, which includes associated grants and contracts,
cost sharing and membership fees. These funds are used to support
the three programmatic elements of CPES: (1) technology development
and demonstration; (2) industrial collaboration and technology
transfer; and (3) education and outreach.
CPES's program for technology development and demonstration relies
heavily on participation by industry, and is designed to cover
several areas which includes advanced power semiconductor devices;
systems integration; advanced power electronics packaging technology;
control and sensor integrations; and integrated power electronics
module synthesis (IPEMS).
In the CPES demonstrative program, two initiatives are in place
to demonstrate the viability of the technology being developed.
These two initiatives address distributed power systems and motor
drives. The research prototypes for the demonstrative initiatives
are being built using a two-tier testbed approach. The first
tier takes place in a university-based experimental testbed to
evaluate "proof-of-concept" prototypes, and the second
tier takes place within an industrial setting to determine the
feasibility and value for commercialization of existing applications.
The second area of CPES's programmatic elements involves industrial
collaboration and technology transfer. Industrial collaboration
with CPES takes several forms: (1) participation in the technology
development and demonstration program, either as a testbed partner
or working on a specific area of research interest; (2) participation
in the Industrial Partners Program, where industry representatives
provide guidance in the direction and implementation of CPES
initiatives; and (3) involvement in the education and outreach
program, either as the recipient of CPES courses and seminars
or as the sponsor of student-related work.
Meaningful technology transfer is an element critical to the
success of CPES in achieving its vision. Those organizations
holding principal memberships in the Industrial Partners Program
have access to CPES-generated intellectual properties. They also
have the exclusive option to negotiate royalty-bearing licenses
for commercial use.
The education and outreach program demonstrates several unique
initiatives. Curriculum integration among the five campuses is
taking place through distance access, providing students with
a comprehensive background in power electronics. An option in
power electronics for undergraduate electrical engineers at Virginia
Tech and RPI has been established. This option is offered at
a limited number of universities throughout the United States.
Students are gaining invaluable educational experience through
internships and fellowships sponsored by industry, allowing them
to link theory to practice.
Barbosa (G) works on a high-frequency DC/DC PWM resonant converter
for applications that require high power density, low weight
and volume. The
power converter has been designed to operate at 1MHZ, using the latest developments in resonant topologies and planar magnetics.
Center for Microelectronics, Optoelectronics, and Nanotechnology
Associated ECE Faculty
Robert Hendricks, Director
Richard O. Claus
This newly formed center is a collaborative partnership among
the ECE, MSE and physics departments, with support from several
other departments. MicrON has been established in response to
the statewide initiative to develop and enhance education and
The center provides unique facilities, instruments, and processing
tools that are either prohibitively expensive and/or must be
operated in a specialized cleanroom environment in support of
the research programs of numerous research groups and centers
with interests and activities in the area of microelectronics,
optoelectronics, and nanotechnology, and to coordinate and develop
an interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate educational program
among the participating departments.
The center operates a number of advanced research laboratories,
including a Device Fabrication Laboratory, a Materials Synthesis
Laboratory, and a Device and Materials Characterization Laboratory.
The laboratories provide opportunities for faculty members from
several departments to teach and collaborate on microelectronics
research. Areas of investigation include microelectronic materials,
such as wide-bandgap materials and electronic ceramics; novel
devices, including power devices, high-frequency/high-speed devices;
optoelectronics; MEMS; and organic light-emitting devices. Additional
investigation areas involve process technologies, such as nanotechnology,
advanced lithography, plasma-aided processing, and micromachining;
and circuits, systems, and design work.
The center's teaching mission includes coordinating the university's
undergraduate microelectronic concentration, and working with
industry to create co-op experiences for both undergraduate and
graduate students. The center operates two teaching laboratories:
an 1800 square-foot Semiconductor Fabrication Laboratory and
a Semiconductor Packaging Laboratory.
photograph of a 5-6 GHz RF x2 subharmonic mixer IC fabricated
in IBM Silicon Germanium (SiGe) technology. The chip is packaged
on a low-profile MLF package. The die size is 0.9mm x 0.7mm.
The package size is 4mm x 4mm. This chip was designed, laid out
and fully tested by Dan Johnson, a Bradley Fellow. The work was
sponsored by RF Microdevices, Greensboro, NC .
The growth in the wireless communications industry reflects
the tremendous demand for commercial wireless (untethered) communications
services such as paging, analog and digital cellular telephony,
and emerging Personal Communications Services (PCS).
Beyond the arena of mobile communications, there are numerous
wireless applications including RF identification (RFID), satellite
communications, Local Multipoint Distribution Systems (LMDS),
and Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) operating at frequencies
extending into the millimeter-wave regime (>30 GHz). This
rapid expansion of untethered communications services, along
with the need for low-cost, high-efficiency system implementations,
has led to an explosion in the development of integrated circuit
approaches in the RF/microwave area. These Radio Frequency Integrated
Circuits (RFICs) and Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits
(MMICs) are generally packaged together with VLSI digital signal
processing (DSP) and microprocessor (mP) control chips on printed
circuit boards (PCBs) or in advanced multichip modules (MCMs).
However, on the immediate horizon are mixed-signal integrated
circuits in which RF, low-frequency analog, and digital functions
are integrated on the same chip, thus setting the stage for single-chip
In addition, a second revolution in microelectronics is currently under way, defined by the integration of micro-mechanical structures, multifunctional materials, and micro-/opto-electronic circuits on the same semiconductor substrate - so-called integrated microsystems. These microsystems may contain mechanical actuators, micro-pumps and valves, physical and chemical sensors, optical-devices, etc. monolithically integrated with transistor-based electronics. The future potential of this technology is microchips "that can sense, think, act, and communicate." The potential impact of integrated microsystems over the next several decades could be as profound as that of conventional integrated circuits over the last several decades. One example of an integrated microsystem is a miniature implantable device that combines sensors, actuators, and computational algorithms and microcircuits for biomedical applications ranging from drug delivery to microsurgery.
The focus of the Wireless Microsystems Technology Laboratory at Virginia Tech is twofold. On the one hand, we are exploring ideas and technologies that enable integrated microsystems, in particular microsystems that are connected to the information infrastructure via wireless communications links (wireless microsystems). Secondly, the laboratory is developing ideas and technologies that enable true single-chip radios (microsystems for wireless). Consider embedded or wearable computing devices incorporating transmitters, receivers, antennas, and sensors, linked together in a distributed wireless network with high bandwidth and high information transfer capabilities. Given this context, topics of interest include, but are not limited to: Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits (RFICs); Monolithic Microwave/Millimeter-wave Integrated Circuits (MMICs); integrated antennas; mixed-signal ICs; high-speed interconnects and packaging; micromachining and Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS); RF MEMS and MEMS sensors; distributed wireless microsensors; and mixed-technology/integrated microsystems. Specific projects currently ongoing include a mm-wave MMIC subharmonic downconverters, monolithic filters for highly-integrated digital radios, mixed RF/digital ICs in CMOS technology, SiGe front-end RFICs photo above, and integrated electrically-small antennas for wireless microsystems.
Simulation of Double Gate MOS Turn-Off Thyristor
Development of Emitter-Controlled Thyristors for Power Electronics
High Power System Level Demonstration of the Emitter Turn-Off
Acquisition of Test Equipment for the Development of Very High
Power, Optical fiber Coupled Emitter Turn-Off Thyristors (ETO)
Simulation of High Voltage MOS Turnoff Thyristor
Metal Matrix Composite Base Plates for High Power Density PEBB
Control and Optimization of Regenerative Power Flow in 21st Century
NSF Engineering Research Center (CPES)
Investigation of Power Management Issues for the Next Generation
Packaging of Power Electronics Building Blocks
AASERT: Optical Fiber Interconnects and Sensors for Power Electronics
Power Electronics Building block and System Integration
Soft-Switching Inverters for AC Speed Drives
Integration of High Speed AC Induction Motor-Inverter System
for Fuel-Cell Powered Electric Vehicle Auxiliary Motor Drives
Power Amplifier Linearization for X/K-Band MMIC Applications
Integrated Antennas and Circuits for Mixed-Technology Single-Chip
A Vector Network Analyzer with Millimeter-Wave Capabilities