How B. Jayant Baliga Transformed Power Semiconductors

The 2014 IEEE Medal of Honor recipient pioneered the IGBT, now found in cars, lighting, robots, and more

8 min read
How B. Jayant Baliga Transformed Power Semiconductors
Latest Medal Recipient: B. Jayant Baliga was awarded the 2014 IEEE Medal of Honor for his many contributions to the field of power semiconductors.
Photo: D.L. Anderson

It’s the late 1970s, the U.S. economy is reeling from years of sky-high oil prices, and President Jimmy Carter desperately wants to reverse the downward spiral in the nation’s prosperity and morale. Seeking wisdom from the crowd, he brings ordinary citizens to Camp David, who, as he later recounts in his famous “malaise” speech, tell him: “Be bold, Mr. President. We may make mistakes, but we are ready to experiment.”

One person ready to experiment—in the literal sense—was B. Jayant Baliga, the recipient of this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor. At the time, he was developing semiconductor power devices for General Electric, which used countless electric motors in its many products—countless motors that drew countless watts.

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