Message from the Director
Next Generation Power
Electronics Research Center
The 21st century is the era of electricity, and use of electrical energy is expanding worldwide. The percentage of final energy consumed in the form of electrical energy is expected to surge from its current level of around 20% to 50% by 2050. In order to lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the era of electricity, it will be essential to transform society so as to allow the use and transmission of electrical energy at a high level of efficiency.
The Next Generation Power Electronics Research Center was established in 2012 as a leading-edge hub for green electronics research to enable the effective use of electrical energy with the aim of realizing a highly electrified society. In alliance with Kitakyushu city’s environmental future city vision, the Center also plays a central role in collaborative research with the Kitakyushu Environmental Electronics Institute and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
Our activities during this academic year have included promoting collaboration with the private sector through a unique Open Lab Initiative (a new approach to contract research agreements that is based on the sharing of findings), participating as a core institution in a national project focusing on next-generation silicon power devices, and pursuing exchanges with small and medium-size companies in our local community. We have also been involved as a principal member with the founding and implementation of the New Generation Power Electronics and System Research Consortium of Japan (NPERC-J), Japan’s first nationwide power electronics consortium.
Going forward, we will turn our attention abroad as we prepare to foster international collaboration around NPERC-J and to give shape to the Center’s unique vision for collaboration with Asian countries. We will also work to disseminate information globally by moving ahead with efforts to offer online courses over the Internet and to create a web archive of research findings. Finally, we will continue to help strengthen the competitiveness of industry both in our own region and nationwide, and to foster the development of highly skilled specialists who can meet the needs of industry worldwide.
- Development of ultimate power semiconductor devices aimed at achieving extreme energy conservation
- Development of integrated power electronics to realize micro-miniaturization.
- Development of real-time monitoring technology to detect failure causes of power semiconductor devices.
- Power electronics control and its integration with the digital network.
We conduct research on the new types of silicon power devices with high performance as well as high-volume production capability. By incorporating a new concept that helps in realizing extreme performance based on silicon technologies coupled with high-volume production capability, we aim to achieve low loss and high switching speed performance, as well as to drastically reduce the chip area by creating high current density pathways.
Our goal is to realize next-generation ultra-miniaturized power systems that are three-dimensionally laminated and integrated, we intend to promote research in the following fields: development of three-dimensional implementing technology with extreme high density abricating full use of LSI and MEMS processes, development of high-frequency and high-temperature operational power devices and technologies to enhance their reliability, heat xhausting technologies, and circuit and control technologies. Specifically, the realization of high-frequency switching and approches to be taken for higher heat generation density through high-density implemention are important issues for us.
Next-generation power devices have a higher current density and stronger internal electric field, which makes their structures and other factors more complicated and susceptible to degradation and breakdown. Therefore, it is becoming very difficult to ensure sufficient reliability of these devices with the existing lifetime evaluation methods. Real-time monitoring technology is a set of devices to temporally and spatially observe phenomena triggering a failure at micro-levels. By obtaining data on structural changes in packaging, time variations of the distributions of currents, electromagnetic fields, temperature, and other factors with high spatial resolving power, we aim to reveal the mechanism that leads to the failure of these devices.
With the advancement of information and communication technologies, there has been steadfast progress towards digitization and networking of power devices and further progress is likely towards intelligentization of these devices. We conducted a preceding study on the gate drive circuit of power semiconductors from the perspectives of digitization and networking. By monitoring and controlling these power devices using digital circuits, we aim to improve the performance of power devices themselves and realize high-speed protection.
Turning the center into a hub, developing human resources, and drawing up a comprehensive roadmap for collaboration.
- Our participation in the nationwide consortium of activities for power electronics and promotion of efforts to contribute as a key competence center for the Kyushu region.
- Promotion of collaborative projects with industries through the sharing of the research outcomes based on the open laboratory vision.
- Provision of doctoral-level education based on project-based learning and the establishment of a career flow towards industries.
- Embodiment of the inter-university plan based on the three-party research collaboration.