Purdue to share in $1 million energy efficiency research grant

A foundation created to encourage students to pursue careers in engineering, science or mathematics has announced a three-year grant to Purdue and two other universities for research and education to reduce energy consumption through enhanced electronics efficiency.

The three-year, $1 million grant supplied by the II-VI Foundation also involves researchers at Auburn and Rutgers universities. It will fund the work of six graduate student researchers who will partner with faculty members to learn more about the physics and chemistry of the silicon-carbide energy interface required to transmit energy. James Cooper, the Jai N. Gupta Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the principal investigator for Purdue.

The idea for the research developed at a II-VI Foundation conference, according to Carl Johnson, foundation chairman. “An unexpected and exciting outcome from one of the foundation’s mini-conferences in 2012 was a discussion among professors from Auburn, Purdue and Rutgers,” Johnson said. “They discovered a common interest in researching different aspects of the same topic. Commencing with the 2013 block-gift cycle, this first-ever II-VI Foundation cooperative research initiative (CRI) will be launched. These three universities will be funded to collaborate on different approaches to a single, challenging research topic, taking advantage of the expertise of each. As with all of our block-gift programs,” he added, “the personal growth and skill development of the graduate students are of primary importance.”

The single overall technical objective of the CRI is improving the silicon-carbide based transistors currently used for amplifying or switching electronic signals.

The II-VI Foundation also indicated that it will fund more than $3.5 million this year alone in college scholarships for science and engineering students, science camps for middle-school students and more than 20 graduate-level research projects such as ones currently being conducted at the three participating universities.