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College of Engineering and Computing


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.

Laboratories Involved

Design Tools

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.

Energy Routing

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.

Integrated Grids

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 applications.

Power Electronics

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.

Arkansas Facility

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.