GaN increases | The UCSB stream

The proliferation of electronic devices and the growing need to process large amounts of data are one of the reasons the world needs to use its energy resources wisely. Add to this the obsolescence of our conventional power grid, the emerging Internet of Things and the reputation of bringing essential human requirements – such as light and agriculture – into the 21st century. These new technologies and energy saving efforts are based on gallium nitride (GaN), a compound with unique and valuable electronic properties.

Umesh Mishra, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara, long ago foresaw the need for higher performance and energy efficiency. For decades he has focused his research mainly on the development of GaN materials and devices for electronics, while at the same time contributing to optoelectronics such as optical data storage, semiconductor lasers and, last but not least, white LEDs, which were developed by UCSB professor Shuji Nakamura that revolutionized lighting the whole world. Due in part to Mishra’s efforts, GaN has now become the cornerstone of advanced, energy-efficient technologies, including power electronics and RF electronics for radar and 4G and 5G communications.

On Monday, November 26th, Mishra will deliver the 63rd annual faculty research lecture, the highest honor given to professors at UC Santa Barbara for recognition of exceptional scientific awards. The Corwin Pavilion event, which is free and open to the public, begins with a reception at 4:00 p.m., followed by the lecture at 5:15 p.m.

Mishra’s lecture entitled “Thank God for GaN” describes the power of GaN not only to drive innovation, but also to modernize existing technologies, reduce power consumption and limit energy waste.

“Prof. Nakamura is the founder of the excitement that GaN is having for its Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough in the ubiquitous blue and white LED, ”said Mishra. “Along with him and my fellow colleagues Steve DenBaars, Jim Speck, and many others, we hope to create the second wave of excitement around electronic devices whose potential impact is as broad as the photonic applications of GaN.”

Donald W. Whittier Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Santa Barbara, Mishra, joined the faculty in 1990 after an early career in industry and academia. He received his Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, his Masters from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

As a much-quoted researcher, Mishra has also brought his considerable talent to the GaN industry. In 1996 he co-founded Nitres (later acquired by Cree, Inc.), the world’s first startup to bring high-frequency GaN transistors and LEDs to market. In 2007 he co-founded and headed Transphorm, which commercialized GaN-on-silicon transistors for power conversion.

Mishra is known for his dedicated teaching style and has supervised more than 65 PhD students. Theses – more than 40 of them in the field of GaN materials and devices. Many of his students have received awards for their presentations at prestigious conferences and have become leaders in this field themselves.

Mishra has received numerous awards including the Institute of Electric Wave and Electronics Engineers’ Distinguished Educator Award for Microwave Theory and Techniques and the David Sarnoff Award. For his contributions to the development and marketing of GaN electronics, he also received the Heinrich Welker Medal of the International Symposium for Compound Semiconductors (ISCS) and the ISCS quantum device award. He is an IEEE Fellow, International Fellow of the Japanese Society of Applied Physics, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

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