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USA Science & Engineering Festival – Role Models in Science & Engineering Achievement

Jayant Baliga

Jayant Baliga --Electrical Engineer and Inventor

A hero of the Semiconductor Revolution. His super-transistor invention has improved energy efficiency by more than 40 percent in an array of products -- from cars and fluorescent lamps to defibrillators and bullet trains

Renowned scientist and inventor Jayant "Jay" Baliga may have the smallest carbon footprint on the planet. It is estimated that the energy-saving semiconductor he invented has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 30 trillion pounds worldwide over the past 20 years.

Growing up in the small village of Jalahalli near Bangalore, India, Jay, as a young student, was ambitious and later developed a desire "do something that serves humanity." Says Jay: "I came to the United States in 1969 to do research to fulfill this mission."

Why He's Important: Regarded as the world's leading expert on power semiconductor devices, Jayant Baliga invented, developed and commercialized the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) while working as a scientist at General Electric in the 1970s. Today, the IGBT is extensively used in the consumer, industrial, lighting, transportation, medical, and renewable energy sectors of the economy. It has enabled enormous reduction of gasoline and electrical energy use, resulting in huge cost savings to consumers, and reduction of world-wide carbon dioxide emissions.

More specifically, the IGBT is now produced by a dozen companies around the world for use in the ignition systems of cars, compact fluorescent lamps (saving about 75% of energy), bullet trains, and used to create portable defibrillators that save approximately 100,000 lives per year.

Other Achievements: Earlier in his career at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, he developed a new process to grow semiconductor material. Today, all microwave transistors and LEDs are manufactured by using this process.

For his groundbreaking advances, Jay has received numerous awards and honors, including the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest form of recognition given to an engineer by the United States Government, from President Obama in October 2011 at the White House; and the North Carolina Award for Science from Governor Purdue in October 2012.

The holder of more than 100 U.S. patents, Jay was also named by Scientific American Magazine as one of the "Eight Heroes of the Semiconductor Revolution" and is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor in the engineering profession.

Current Activities: Jay is a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University where he also 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.

Education: He earned his Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India; his Master's in Electrical Engineering, and his Ph.D. in the same discipline from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.

In His Own Words: When asked what advice he would have for future engineers and scientists, he said: "Be passionate about what you do. Have a mission that excites you. In my case, service to humanity was my mission. And remember to work hard towards your goal."