Ohio State-led research team receives $2.2 million grant for transformational energy project

Researchers at The Ohio State University are leading a project recently awarded $2.2 million from the Department of Energy to develop gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor materials suitable for high-voltage power control and conversion.


The project, “GaN MOCVD Growth on Native Substrates for High Voltage (15-20 kV) Vertical Power Devices,” is one of 12 projects receiving $35 million in funding through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) OPEN+ program.


“Today’s dominant power semiconductor devices use Silicon, which suffers at high power and high temperature operations. It is absolutely critical to find alternatives to harness medium-voltage electricity infrastructure for applications across industry, transportation, on the grid and beyond,” said Hongping Zhao, associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). “This project aims to develop wide bandgap semiconductor GaN materials grown on native GaN substrates that enables vertical power devices with switching voltages up to 15-20 kilovolts.”


The team is led by Zhao and includes ECE and MSE professor Siddharth Rajan; IMR Executive Director, Distinguished University Professor and Neal A. Smith Professor of Electrical Engineering Steven Ringel; and ECE professor Jin Wang. During the three year project, Ohio State will partner with SixPoint Materials, Inc., a California-based materials manufacturer, which will focus on developing GaN substrates.


Zhao joined Ohio State in August 2017 through the IMR-led Materials & Manufacturing for Sustainability Discovery Theme. Zhao’s research interests focus on the growth and physics of wide bandgap and ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor materials and devices, and the low-dimensional semiconductor nano-materials and devices for energy applications.


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Jung-Hyun Kim, industry partners receive nearly $2.5M DOE award to advance EV technology


Jung-Hyun Kim, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, received with partners Nexceris and Navitas a nearly $2.5-million grant from the Department of Energy to develop cathode materials for the next generation of electric vehicle batteries.


The project, “Cobalt-free LNMTO spinel cathode materials,” is one of 42 research projects sponsored through the Department of Energy program aiming to shore up U.S. energy security by supporting the development and commercialization of affordable, energy-efficient transportation technologies.


Increased energy efficiency plays no small part in the stability and growth of an economy driven by transportation. The average U.S. household spent about one-sixth of its total expenditures on transportation in 2017, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. That year, 11 billion tons of freight were transported by vehicles, with about $35 billion in products shipping each day, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.


Demand for battery materials is also expected to increase as interest in electrical vehicles grows within the transportation industry.


Kim, who was recruited to The Ohio State University through the Institute for Materials Research-led Materials & Manufacturing for Sustainability Discovery Theme, will focus on developing materials to supplant prohibitively high-cost materials, such as Cobalt, used in electric-vehicle batteries. Cobalt is vital to the performance of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, but recent increases in demand and price have resulted in shortages and concern about its outlook.


“Our work over the next three years will pave the way to a new generation cathode of Li-ion batteries,” Kim said. “Our goal is to develop low-cost cathode materials with high energy and power and demonstrate it using prototype battery cells with 2 Ah capacity, which can significantly impact Li-ion battery markets, mainly for electric vehicle (EV) applications.”


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Ohio State joins $42M DOE project for innovative buildings research

The Ohio State University was named among the funding recipients in a recently announced U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) $42 million project to support innovative residential and commercial building technologies for energy efficiency.


As part of the overall program, Ohio State Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Hongping Zhao is set to lead an almost $600,000 project for the research proposal “High Efficiency InGaN Light Emitting Diodes (LED) emitting Green, Amber and Beyond.”


Zhao arrived at Ohio State in 2017 as an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering through the Materials & Manufacturing for Sustainability Discovery Theme, led by the Institute for Materials Research (IMR).


According to DOE, buildings use 75 percent of the nation’s electricity and account for 40 percent of its overall energy use.


“We are excited to be selected to tackle the challenges that current LED technology is facing. InGaN LEDs emitting in blue have achieved high quantum efficiencies with commercialized products available on the market. However, LEDs emitting in green, amber and longer wavelength still suffer from low efficiencies,” Zhao said. “In this project, we will develop novel materials and structures to address this issue.”


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Ghalichechian earns NSF CAREER Award for next-gen millimeter wave communications


New research at The Ohio State University could help lead to a new generation of radio frequency devices capable of advancing space communications, smart phones and even self-driving cars.


The point is about rethinking the entire design and make-up of the materials used to make such devices, from the ground up.


For his efforts in this realm, Ohio State Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor and IMR member Nima Ghalichechian recently earned the prestigious National Science Foundation 2019 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. It provides $500,000 in new funding over the next five years for his proposal, “CAREER: Understanding and Exploiting Non-linear Behavior of Phase-Change Materials for Millimeter-Wave Applications.”


Ghalichechian, who leads Ohio State’s Radio Frequency Microsystems Lab, is marrying the concepts behind materials engineering and electromagnetics. He is working alongside first-year Ohio State Ph.D. student Mark Lust and third-year Ph.D. student Shangyi Chen.


Together, they are performing fundamental studies on phase-change materials and their applications in the millimeter-wave domain. Specifically, to create passive imaging sensors.

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INNOVATE-O-thon offers students experience, exposure to career possibilities


When one of Josiah Campbell’s professors at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) told him about an opportunity to take part in the most recent INNOVATE-O-thon at The Ohio State University, he didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance.


“I couldn’t just let it pass me by,” he said.


Campbell recently reflected on his experience as one of the winners of the three-day INNOVATE-O-thon externship, organized by the Institute for Materials Research (IMR).


Each semester, IMR challenges undergraduates studying a variety of disciplines to work with each other, as well as faculty, industry and government representatives to a solve real-world problem.


In November, students were asked to help shape DriveOhio’s technology strategy by imagining a future with autonomous shuttles on the Columbus campus of Ohio State, then build value propositions for projects of that scope.


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