Sudip K. Mazumder grows sponsored research with new DOE, Office of Naval Research grants

Professor Sudip K. Mazumder has more than ten current sponsored research projects, including two that began this fall. His latest awards include a $448K grant from the Department of Energy to examine the reliability of electronic components in photovoltaic, or PV systems, and a $248K grant from the Office of Naval Research for semiconductor device-level control of power electronic systems.

The Department of Energy project aims to improve the design and manufacturing process of PV inverters, which are used to turn the direct current produced by solar panels into alternating current, which can then be transferred to and used on the power grid.

Field data will be gathered from sensors to identify and classify the way the inverters fail based on different environmental and operational conditions. Mazumder will develop stress-defining algorithms that will to be used to convert a range of environmental and operational exposure conditions, including the effects of grid dynamics, to electrical, chemical, mechanical, and thermal stresses acting on critical components in the inverter.

“We can combine these data with prior knowledge of the effects of these stresses on key components, and use physics-of-failure algorithms to calculate the level of degradation, and time to failure for critical components,” Mazumder said.

A scaled-power test-bed inverter will be developed to monitor the system before and after aging, and what’s known as a digital twin model will be incorporated to use deep learning techniques to refine the tool. Like a simulation, a digital twin uses digital models to replicate a system’s processes, but it provides a far richer virtual environment—any number of simulations can be run to study multiple processes. Digital twins also incorporate real-time data from embedded sensors, and their two-way flow of information offers more robust opportunities for correction.

The end goal of this project will be to incorporate the digital twin model into the PV inverter design and manufacturing process. The project is a collaboration among leading researchers from both academia and industry who work on PV inverters.

The award from the Office of Naval Research Defense University Research Instrumentation Program continues Mazumder’s decades-long work into breakthrough semiconductor level control of power electronic systems, including ultra-high-speed (sub-nanosecond) multi-scale controls.

As the U.S. Navy has moved towards ships with electric propulsion, weapon systems, and support systems, they rely on far greater electrical power than in the past, and reliability of these systems are key, especially if a ship or its systems should sustain damage.

Mazumder will work on multi-scale control for the Navy’s next generation integrated power systems using an ultra-high-speed computation platform, and a wide-bandgap-device-based advanced experimental hardware facility developed at Mazumder’s lab, the Laboratory for Energy & Switching- Electronic Systems.