May 30, 2006
By: by Steve Janack, Director of Communications, Albany NanoTech
Albany, NY - A team of researchers led by the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (“CNSE”) of the University at Albany has successfully demonstrated the world’s first 50,000 Watt cryogenic power inverter, a development that could play a critical role in the future introduction of an all-electric fleet by the US Navy.
Working with the Naval Research Laboratory (“NRL”) and MTECH Laboratories (“MTECH”) of Ballston Spa, NY, researchers at CNSE’s Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center (“E2TAC”) developed and successfully tested cryogenically-cooled power electronic components that are compact and extremely fast - key drivers in building smaller, lighter and more reliable integrated power systems that are necessary for the Navy’s transition to all-electric ships.
This next-generation technology is designed to provide power throughout a Navy vessel to support propulsion, sensors, high-energy weapons and auxiliary systems, while at the same time offering enhanced ship survivability, improved combat capability, reduced crew size and lowered ship life-cycle costs.
The successful demonstration marked the completion of the first year of a two-year project sponsored by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”), through funding secured by U.S. Representative John E. Sweeney (R-Clifton Park).
Representative Sweeney said, “The partnership Albany NanoTech has created with the Naval Research Lab to take the lead on furthering the development of national defense systems through the use of nanotechnology is quite an accomplishment. I am proud to have played a role in securing over $5.2 million for this project. Not only is this kind of research important for New York’s innovation and job creation, but its implications will have substantial benefits to the success of our military. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Albany NanoTech as these New Yorkers continue to push the envelope on innovation in the United States.”
Dr. Donald Gubser, Superintendent of the Materials Science and Technology Division at NRL, said, “The cryo-cooled electronics we have been developing in this project could play an important role in the development of new power systems for the Navy that are smaller, lighter and more reliable than today’s systems. They become increasingly attractive as superconducting power systems, which operate at cryogenic temperatures, are deployed. In the Navy, superconducting motors and generators are planned for advanced ship propulsion systems. These cryo-cooled electronics will then become highly desirable in building integrated power systems for future Naval warships.”
Dr. Michael Hennessy, President of MTECH Laboratories, said, “Combining the materials and electronic packaging expertise at CNSE with our knowledge of electronic power systems has resulted in important advances in technology that have great potential for demanding applications such as all-electric ships. We look forward to continuing these advances during the next phase of the project.”
Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of CNSE, said, “Working in partnership with NRL and MTECH, CNSE is pleased to have had the opportunity to lead this groundbreaking research initiative and is encouraged by the initial success of the program, which holds great promise in the critically important area of national defense. We commend Congressman Sweeney and DARPA for their leadership and support in making this research possible, and we look forward to achieving additional milestones in this effort designed to safeguard our vital national interests.”
Dr. Pradeep Haldar, professor of nanoengineering at CNSE, director of E2TAC and principal investigator of the project, said, “The early success of this program is a great example of the enabling power of nanotechnology, which can be used to impact a host of important areas, including energy and national defense. We expect additional advances as we begin the second phase of our research, made possible through the vision of Congressman Sweeney and DARPA.”
The demonstration power inverter utilized a revolutionary approach in which metal heat sinks and other bulky cooling hardware were replaced by a liquid nitrogen bath, a cooling method that is compatible with forthcoming superconducting device technologies.
The next phase of the project will attempt to extend the technology to higher power levels and to more compact packaging. The ultimate goal is the development of a technology for integrated power systems that offers dramatic reductions in size and weight and increased power density for key military applications.
About CNSE. The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany-State University of New York is the first college in the world devoted exclusively to the research, development and deployment of innovative nanoscience, nanoengineering and nanoeconomics concepts. CNSE is located in the most advanced research complex of its kind at any university in the world. The $3 billion, 450,000-square-foot complex attracts corporate partners from around the world and offers students a one-of-a-kind academic experience, and it is growing. The complex is also home to CNSE’s New York State Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics. The CNSE complex, financed through more than $500 million in governmental support and over $2.5 billion in corporate investments, houses the only pilot prototyping facilities in the academic world for the two standard sizes in computer chip design, the 200-millimeter (or 8-inch) wafer, and the 300-millimeter (or 12-inch) wafer.CNSE has more than 150 U.S. and worldwide partners, including some of the world's largest semiconductor and semiconductor-related tool manufacturing companies. For more information, visit the CNSE Web site at http://cnse.albany.edu.
About E2TAC. The Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center (“E2TAC”) was created in 1998. It was established as an active expansion of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (“CNSE”) to work with companies in the rapidly emerging energy and environmental industries. E2TAC allows CNSE and its Albany NanoTech complex to leverage its intellectual power base and state-of-the-art infrastructure to provide an applications-targeted, resource-supported technology development, leading to the integration of microelectronics and nanotechnology in advanced energy and environmental applications.