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Faculty and Staff

Baliga Wins Global Energy Prize

Electrical engineer Jay Baliga, lauded by Scientific American as one of the heroes of the semiconductor revolution, has scored another scientific honor. The professor was awakened at 4:30 in the morning on April 23 with news from Moscow that he is a 2015 winner of the Global Energy Prize, an annual award presented at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June.

Baliga shares the honor with Shuji Nakamura, a UC Santa Barbara professor who won the Nobel Prize in physics last year for inventing the blue LED. The award comes with a cash prize of 33 million rubles, equivalent to about $645,000.

Baliga, director of NC State’s Power Semiconductor Research Center and a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, is renowned for his invention of the insulated-gate bipolar transistor or IGBT, a power semiconductor device primarily used as an electronic switch in modern appliances, from electric cars to air conditioners.

The IGBT is used in every sector of the economy to improve the quality of life for billions of people around the world. The improved efficiency gained by using the IGBT has resulted in saving over 1 trillion gallons of gasoline and reducing electrical energy consumption by more than 50,000 terra-watt-hours (equivalent to not having to build 600 one-gigawatt coal-fired power plants). This has saved consumers $15 trillion while reducing carbon dioxide emission by more than 75 trillion pounds.

Baliga has received numerous awards in a career spanning four decades, including the 2014 IEEE Medal of Honor, the 2012 North Carolina Award for Science, the 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama, the 1999 IEEE Lamme Medal, the 1998 IEEE Ebers Award, the 1998 O. Max Gardner Award, the 1993 IEEE Liebman Award, and the 1992 Pride of India Award, among others. He is a member of the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame, the Electronic Design Engineering Hall of Fame, the European Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and is an IEEE Life Fellow.