At USC, the research program and facilities emphasize power electronics, electronic
control and routing of power, and simulation environments that support analysis and
design of advanced power electronic systems. Our facilities support projects up to
roughly the 100 kW level. A cornerstone of our facilities is the Power Routing Lab,
which contains an array of 100kW software-configurable power converters.
Our research focuses on creating collaborative multi-disciplinary design and simulation
tools for complex systems. The early-stage concept design tool for naval systems,
S3D, is based on our Virtual Test Bed software infrastructure. Our computing facilities
include a wide variety of desktop systems suitable for code authoring, compilation,
and software execution. Our group leases commercial cloud computing facilities when
needed, and we have access to several computer clusters each 100’s of cores in size
for computationally intensive research.
Our research is concerned with the design, development, evaluation, and control of
energy routing methods and electronic devices to improve power system quality and
reliability. The lab is equipped with multiple Power Electronics Building Blocks (PEBBs)
which are configured as multipurpose bi-directional power converters. These converters
are used to build larger systems, including configurations that recycle the power
within the laboratory, permitting operation at higher powers than would otherwise
be possible with the installed capacity.
Our research looks at future power systems as integrations of energy and information
infrastructures. Our lab provides a holistic real time simulation infrastructure that
supports multi-physics simulation and communication network simulation, allowing testing
of innovative solutions for grid control under quite realistic conditions. While our
activity focuses mainly on distribution grids, the developed infrastructure can also
support study of transmission grids and micro-grids, home energy systems or naval
Our research addresses the design, control, and performance of switching power converters
and their constituent components. We use the power electronics lab for fabrication
and testing of switching power converters and for testing multi-converter control
techniques. We also perform power semiconductor device characterization and physics-based
modeling to better understand power converter performance and to facilitate improved
converter design, with particular emphasis on wide bandgap devices using silicon carbide
and gallium nitride semiconductor materials.
Our partners at the University of Arkansas have a significant facility for testing
of power electronics at the grid power levels – up to 6 MVA with 15kV-class equipment
– in their National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission (NCREPT). The 7000 sq ft facility has four test bays, can accommodate equipment in tractor
trailers, and can recirculate power at variable AC frequencies. See the GRAPES headquarters
web site for more complete descriptions of their facilities and capabilities.