FREEDM’s Jay Baliga Awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

In December 2013, Dr. Jayant Baliga, a faculty researcher of the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems Center (FREEDM) – a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) headquartered at North Carolina State University (NCSU) – was awarded the Medal of Honor from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The award is one of the highest honors any individual can receive in electrical engineering. Baliga was recognized for his invention, development, and commercialization of the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT).

Impact/benefits: 

The IGBT is an energy-saving semiconductor switch that controls the flow of power from an electrical energy source to any application that needs energy; IGBTs have enabled efficiency gains of more than 40 percent in products such as cars, refrigerators, and light bulbs. Since their introduction, IGBT-enabled applications saved consumers more than $2.7 trillion in the United States (U.S.) and $15.8 trillion worldwide – while also reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 35 trillion pounds in the U.S. and 78 trillion pounds worldwide. IGBT-based compact portable defibrillators have also saved an estimated 100,000 lives in the U.S.

Explanation/Background: 

Dr. Jayant Baliga is the Distinguished University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NCSU where he is a founding director of the university’s Power Semiconductor Research Center. He received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest form of recognition given to an engineer by the United States Government, from President Obama in October 2011 at the White House; and the North Carolina Award for Science from Governor Purdue in October 2012. Baliga’s recent work at the FREEDM ERC includes research into wireless communication technologies and use of silicon carbide to create energy-efficient high-power devices.

The IEEE is the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology, with more than 425,000 members in more than 160 countries. The IEEE Medal of Honor was established in 1917 as the institute’s highest award; previous winners include radio pioneer, Guglielmo Marconi, and microchip co-inventor, Robert Noyce. The IEEE Medal of Honor is presented to candidates who have “made a particular contribution that forms a clearly exceptional addition to the science and technology” of electrical, electronic and computing fields.

Baliga first introduced the IGBT at General Electric Research and Development Center (GE) where he spent 15 years leading their power device effort and was bestowed the highest scientific rank of Coolidge Fellow. The IGBT is extensively used in the consumer, industrial, lighting, transportation, medical, renewable energy, and other sectors of the economy. It has enabled enormous reduction of gasoline and electrical energy use, resulting in huge cost savings to consumers, and reduction of world-wide carbon dioxide emissions.