The APEC Plenary Session addresses topics of immediate and long-term interest to the practicing power electronic engineer.

The on-trend topics are presented by invited distinguished professionals followed by an interactive Q&A session.

APEC 2024 Plenary Session

What do you think are the most important issues in power electronics? Who do you want to see talk about these issues? Complete the APEC Plenary Topics Survey to let us know what and who you want to see in the APEC 2025 Plenary Session. The survey closes on July 18, 2024 so don’t delay – take the survey today!

While the APEC Conference Committee is hard at work on the APEC 2025 Plenary Session take a look at the APEC 2024 Plenary Session with six outstanding presentations on power electronics technology today and in the future.

The APEC 2024 Plenary Session was broadcast live on IEEE.TV. If IEEE.

  • Opening Welcome Message by Tim McDonald, APEC 2024 General Chair
  • Presentation of the 2024 IEEE William E. Newell Power Electronics Field Award to David Perreault by Kevin Peterson, IEEE Division II Director
  • Plenary Introduction by Tony O’Gorman, APEC 2024 Program Chair

Daniel Friedrichs
Senior Principal Engineer
Minnetronix Medical

Abstract: Medical applications of power electronics may seem limited to AC/DC and housekeeping power supplies, but an entire class of medical devices exist where power converter outputs are directly connected to patients to achieve different therapeutic effects and improve lives. These include thermally-based therapies (such as ablation and electrosurgery) and electric field-based therapies (such as pulsed field ablation and electro-chemotherapy). Dr. Friedrichs will share examples of clinical therapies dependent on power conversion that include correcting heart arrythmias, ablating tumors, delivering vaccines, and treating genetic disorders. Additionally, this plenary will discuss the unique power electronics challenges that exist in this space, along with future opportunities for power electronics suppliers and designers to accelerate their impact on healthcare.

Daniel Friedrichs leads development of surgical energy systems for Minnetronix Medical, a development and manufacturing partner to the medical device industry. He has specialized in medical power electronics for 15 years and holds over 35 patents related to medical applications of power converters. Dr. Friedrichs has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder, is a licensed Professional Engineer, and is a Senior Member of IEEE.

David Perreault
Ford Professor of Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract: Advances in the performance of power electronics – including their size, efficiency, and control bandwidth – are essential to reducing energy consumption and increasing functionality in myriad applications. Increases in switching frequency into the high-frequency (HF, 3-30 MHz) range and beyond offers the potential to reduce energy storage requirements, achieve higher bandwidth and greater miniaturization, and advance applications. At the same time, there are numerous challenges to design at HF, including in devices and passive components, circuits, controls, and packaging. This talk will explore opportunities, challenges, and progress in the design of HF power electronics. Examples will be provided illustrating high-performance HF power components and systems and their application.

David Perreault received the B.S. degree from Boston University and the S.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Electrical Engineering. He is presently the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT. His research interests include design, manufacturing, and control techniques for power electronic systems and components, and in their use in a wide range of applications. Dr. Perreault is a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the IEEE and the recipient of many awards including the IEEE R. David Middlebrook Achievement Award for his work in power electronics. He is co-author of sixteen IEEE prize papers in the area, and of the textbook “Principles of Power Electronics, 2nd Edition” (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Dr. Perreault also co-founded startup companies Eta Devices (acquired by Nokia in 2016) and Eta Wireless (acquired by Murata in 2021).

Balu Balakrishnan
Chairman and CEO
Power Integrations

Abstract: Fundamental microelectronics innovations such as high voltage GaN and developments in power converter topology and implementation, are key weapons in the world’s push for decarbonization and energy sustainability. Together, they deliver excellent efficiency, eliminate many parts from system bills of materials, minimize power sub-system volume, heatsinking requirements and enclosure size and weight. The environmental benefits of smaller physical size, reduced complexity and minimal heat dissipation ripple through the supply and use chain from primary mineral sourcing to shipping costs to end user electricity bills. Even so, when sustainability is considered at a business level, there is often a question of whether or not you can run a growth-oriented and profitable enterprise while providing products with an environmental focus. This presentation discusses the critical role of efficiency in sustainability and how our innovations allow us to do good for the environment while doing well as a business.

Balu Balakrishnan joined Power Integrations in 1989, serving in a variety of roles before becoming president and COO in April 2001. He was named CEO and appointed to the company’s board of directors in January 2002. He was named chairman of the board in 2023. Mr. Balakrishnan has more than 40 years of engineering, marketing, and management experience in the semiconductor industry, including product-line management responsibility at National Semiconductor Corporation. He is the chief inventor of several key Power Integrations products and technologies and holds more than 200 U.S. patents. He has received the Discover Award for Technological Innovation as well as a TechAmerica Innovator Award, both in recognition of the environmental benefits of EcoSmart technology.

Gregg Lowe
CEO
Wolfspeed

Abstract: Discover the transformative journey of Silicon Carbide (SiC) from a nascent idea to a pivotal component in power electronics, most evident today in electric vehicles (EVs). This conversation traces the 35-year evolution of American ingenuity, emphasizing SiCs’s role in revolutionizing power management for mid- to high-powered applications and its vital contribution to the transition from internal combustion engines to EVs. Lowe will delve into the challenges and breakthroughs that have marked silicon carbide’s progress. Attendees will gain insights into the future of silicon carbide in power electronics, exploring its potential to drive sustainable and efficient power solutions in the evolving landscape of energy and transportation.

Gregg Lowe joined Wolfspeed in September 2017 as president and chief executive officer (CEO) and has transformed it into the world’s only pure play, vertically integrated silicon carbide company. Under his tenure, Wolfspeed is leading the rapid expansion of the silicon carbide market by committing over $8B toward expanding operations. Prior to Wolfspeed, Lowe served as president and CEO of Freescale Semiconductor, where he led the successful merger with NXP Semiconductors N.V. to create a high-performance, mixed-signal semiconductor industry leader. Gregg also had 28-year career at Texas Instruments, which included executive roles as senior vice president and leader of the analog business. Gregg holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and is a graduate of The Stanford Executive Program (SEP) at Stanford University.

AJ Kantor
Chief of Staff
Zap Energy

Matthew C. Thompson
Vice President of Systems Engineering
Zap Energy

Abstract: Fusion energy offers the potential for abundant, on-demand, carbon-free power. But for the past seven decades, fusion has largely been a scientific R&D effort restricted to national labs and universities. In recent years, however, things have begun to shift as private investors have begun backing an array of companies with plans for commercializing fusion — to the tune of $6 billion to date. Zap Energy is one such team, developing an approach to fusion called the sheared-flow-stabilized Z pinch. Zap’s technology avoids the enormous, costly, and complex magnets and lasers of other fusion concepts, but does require several first-of-a-kind systems – including 1MA scale, high-average-power repetitive pulsed power units based on durable solid-state switches. In this keynote Zap’s VP of Systems Engineering Matthew C. Thompson and Chief of Staff AJ Kantor will describe the electrical power handling requirements of fusion systems in general, the fusion industry landscape, what makes Zap’s approach unique, and why power electronics are a critical technology for it to succeed.

AJ Kantor has devoted her career to building bold and challenging technical projects — at Tesla, supporting critical raw material supply chain strategy, internal systems development, a downstream supply chain program, global battery line builds, and the Tesla battery cell program. From there she moved to venture capital, where she focused on hard tech investing and participated on the boards of companies from incubation-stage through IPO. Her experience in large scale, time-bound R&D and technical programs along with her deep exposure to company building at all stages has brought her to Zap Energy, where she is working to bring the same degree of rigor and innovation to the field of fusion power.

Matthew C. Thompson leads a 45-person division at Zap Energy tasked with developing fusion power plant technologies including repetitive pulsed power, liquid metal walls, and durable electrodes. Dr. Thompson received his BS in physics from Stanford Univ., and his MS and PhD in experimental plasma physics are from UCLA. He has worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, TAE Technologies, and BAE Systems. Dr. Thompson is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), past Chair of the APS Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics, and a past Chair of the APS Committee on Careers and Professional Development. He has mentored numerous students, co-founded a major mentoring program called IMPact, and writes about career issues for physical scientists, including in a published book on the subject.

Francesco Carobolante
Director Corporate Strategy & Ventures
Intel Corporation

Abstract: The development of IVRs (Integrated Voltage Regulators) has been an effort now lasting for over 20 years, but never before it has become such an important focus as it is today. AI processors are approaching currents of 1,000 A and heterogeneous integration is bringing a variety of demanding loads, from traditional logic and memory to optical interfaces, inside the package. As already recognized by many thought leaders, energy efficiency is the ultimate metric to achieve the vision of sustainable advanced computing, which will support the next societal and economic transformation. Co-development of all sub-systems to minimize “Joules/Flop” is the new Moore’s Law to enter the Petaflop era, and power management is one of the most critical enablers to achieve the objective.

Francesco Carobolante explores solutions to advance technology leadership and competitiveness as a Director of Corporate Strategy & Ventures at Intel. In his previous positions as VP Engineering at Qualcomm and Sr Director at Fairchild and STMicroelectronics, he developed many industry “firsts” in power management, WPT, signal processing, RF, digital audio, and many others. Carobolante holds MSEE degrees from University of Padova and UCLA and has authored over 90 issued patents; he is Sr. Member of IEEE, co-chair of IEEE Future Networks Energy Efficiency Working Group, Member of IEEE Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap, and Member of the Steering and Technical Committees for several IEEE PELS and PSMA initiatives, including PwrSoC and EnerHarv.