Dr. Jay Baliga

Transforming Ideas

Dr. Jay Baliga may have the smallest carbon footprint on the planet. The energy-saving semiconductor he invented has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 78 trillion pounds worldwide over the past 20 years.

For his efforts, the NC State researcher was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement.

Baliga’s innovation, called the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT), controls the flow of power from an electrical energy source to any application that needs energy. It improves energy efficiency by more than 40 percent in an array of products, from cars and refrigerators to light bulbs and air conditioners, and it is a critical component of modern compact cardiac defibrillators. The improved efficiency of IGBT-enabled applications has saved consumers $15.8 trillion worldwide.

“It’s wonderful to see power semiconductor technology recognized for its enormous contribution to improving the quality of life for society, while mitigating our impact on the environment,” he says. “And although much has been accomplished, I am continuing my work in the area of renewable energy systems.”

Baliga, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, works with the FREEDM Systems Center, a National Science Foundation–sponsored Engineering Research Center led by NC State that seeks to improve the nation’s distribution and management of power.