Faculty Candidate Seminar

Next Generation Power Electronics

Robert Pilawa-PodgurskiResearch AssistantMassachusetts Institute of Technology

The field of power electronics has not experienced the same dramatic size reduction and performance improvements as information processing electronics have derived from Moore's law. Consequently, the size, weight and cost of modern electronics is often limited by the power electronics components. This talk will present new power electronics architectures that provide substantial improvements in terms of power density, efficiency, and performance compared to the state-of-the-art by operating at drastically increased switching frequencies. Two different approaches to achieving very high switching frequency dc-dc conversion will be presented, each suitable for different voltages and power levels. In the automotive voltage range (< 50 V), a 110 MHz boost converter for LED headlamp applications is presented, which achieves low-loss operation through the use of resonant power conversion. In the CMOS power delivery space (< 12V), an integrated 180 nm CMOS dc-dc converter will be discussed, which utilizes a two-stage architecture to achieve both high bandwidth control and high step-down ratio on a single die. The talk will also discuss the role of power electronics in renewable energy and energy harvesting applications, with several examples illustrating how the proper implementation of power electronics can enable substantial system-level improvements in terms of energy capture and efficiency. One example is a fully integrated maximum power point tracker developed in 0.35 um CMOS that is employed in a thermophotovoltaic (TPV) portable power generator. In this example, non-idealities in the power source introduced by mechanical imperfections can be compensated for in the electrical domain with the help of power electronics, resulting in an overall increase in system efficiency.
Robert Pilawa-Podgurski received dual B.S. degrees in physics and electrical engineering and computer science in 2005, and the M.Eng. degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 2007, all from MIT. He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering at MIT. He performs research in the area of power electronics, with a focus on renewable energy applications, high efficiency power converters, and circuit architectures for CMOS integrated power conversion.

Mr. Pilawa received the Chorafas award in 2007, for outstanding MIT Master's thesis in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), and the 2007 Joseph Lewin Morris award for best EECS thesis presentation. In 2010, he received the Analog Devices MIT Outstanding Student Designer award, as well as a best presentation award at the Applied Power Electronics Conference.

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