University Scholar Sudip Mazumder: on the grid

Sudip Mazumder

Sudip Mazumder wants power distribution to be more efficient. Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services

The University Scholars Program, now in its 29th year, honors faculty members for superior research and teaching, along with great promise for future achievements. The award provides $10,000 a year for three years.

Sudip Mazumder is interested in the efficient, economical and sustainable distribution and use of power, from power grids to electric vehicles.

Mazumder traces his interest in electricity to his father, a professor in engineering and dean at the University of Delhi, India, who studied the movement of water through open channel systems.

“Electricity, just like water, is a resource that a huge number of people depend on,” said Mazumder, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the laboratory for energy and switching-electronics systems.

“Any interruption in its flow or deterioration in its quality can have a widespread impact.”

Mazumder’s research focuses on power electronics — devices or technologies that measure, modify and help distribute power through a system, such as a power grid.

Power electronics come into play between the source of power, like a power generating plant, and the loads, or users of that power, allowing the system to operate according to changing needs.

This is the heart of the “smart grid” concept, which distributes electricity unevenly throughout the system in response to a variety of conditions, including weather. Smart grids help prevent blackouts by sending more electricity where it is needed and less where it isn’t.

Mazumder is developing novel and patented semiconductor devices and power-conversion technologies that will allow renewable energy, from sources like solar panels or wind farms, to be easily added to the existing electrical power grid without extremely heavy and expensive transformers.

Mazumder’s technologies could help increase the amount of renewable energy used by consumers by reducing its cost of distribution and use.

Mazumder, who joined UIC in 2001, received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Virginia Polytechnic and State University and earned a master’s in electrical power engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Other awards he’s received include the UIC Teaching Recognition Program Award and Faculty Research Award, the National Science Foundation Career Award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award.

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