RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, USA: Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) has established a $5 million industry-university partnership devoted to bringing clean, reliable and efficient energy systems and technologies to the marketplace. Founding industry members include ABB, Applied Materials, Bosch, First Solar, IBM, Nexans and Tokyo Electron.
The Energy Research Initiative (ERI) will team companies from semiconductors and other energy-related sectors with university research centers to address the world's need for smart alternative energy sources and prepare students with the technical skills required for the burgeoning industry.
Initial research will address the need for new modeling and simulation tools to support the development of improved photovoltaic devices and the development of systems and technologies to enable an efficient, reliable and secure smart grid electricity infrastructure with integrated renewable energy resources.
“The pervasive use of simulation in semiconductor process development, device design and system analysis has been a critical factor in the success of the electronics industry,” said SRC Executive Vice President Steven Hillenius.
“Similar capabilities do not exist for technologies in support of solar-powered systems. Likewise, today’s smart grid simulation capabilities are also limited, and new transformational approaches are required to enable significant integration of renewable energy resources into the grid.”
“The development of these capabilities is beyond the scale of a single company or even industry, making the cooperation between industry and academia critical to delivering the benefits of alternative energy on a global scale,” Hillenius continued.
Getting more from the sun and ensuring energy sustainability
The ERI will initially address two critical areas for efficient distribution of renewable energy resources: photovoltaics and systems and technologies to enable and optimize smart grids.
A Photovoltaic Research Center will be established at Purdue University to address the performance, cost, reliability and manufacturing challenges of photovoltaics technologies. The center will leverage Purdue’s extensive modeling/simulation expertise and national Network for Computational Nanotechnology framework to provide enabling analytical models and simulation tools for photovoltaic manufacturers, much as Purdue has done for the semiconductor industry.
A Smart Grid Research Center will be established at Carnegie Mellon University to support the incorporation of renewable energy resources and provide modeling, simulation and control tools needed to manage, optimize and secure the power grid. The center will develop the dynamic monitoring and decision systems (DYMONDS) required to create a new paradigm for the electricity infrastructure. In addition, personal energy systems will be enabled providing individuals and organizations choices and flexibility in the use of energy.
World’s best and brightest minds
The ERI will also train and educate students, providing them with the expertise and skills needed to transition these new methods into the marketplace.
Research will be undertaken by a global network of universities comprised of several university centers, starting with the Purdue and Carnegie Mellon centers. Each center will have its own research focus and area of expertise, with close coordination to complement the respective programs. Industry members of the ERI will dedicate engineering and other resources and participate in the selection of appropriate research projects.
The ERI will be managed by a SRC subsidiary called The Energy Research Corporation (TERC), which was formed in 2009 to create opportunities between the semiconductor industry and energy sector.