B. Jayant Baliga

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Manufacturing

For development and commercialization of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defense, and renewable energy generation systems.

For development and commercialization of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defense, and renewable energy generation systems.

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Birth
April 28, 1948
Age Awarded
62
Country of Birth
India
Key Contributions
Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor
Awarded by
Barack Obama
Education
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Indian Institute of Technology
Areas of Impact
Communication & Information
Energy & Environment
Affiliations
North Carolina State University
Other Prizes
National Inventors Hall of Fame
B

B. Jayant Baliga grew up just outside of Bangalore, India in a prosperous family. His father ran a local factory and it was in the home’s technical library that Baliga developed an interest in electrical engineering. After going to the Indian Institute of Technology, Baliga discovered Feynman’s lectures on physics and found a new branch of science to excite him, which led him, ultimately, to combine the two in the field of semiconductors.

Baliga received his MS and Ph.D.  from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before heading to General Electric to work on power devices. While there studying thyristors, high-voltage semiconductors, Baliga discovered certain qualities that suggested thyristors could work like regular transistors with the same possibility to be turned on and off at will. Thyristors were important for power-hungry applications but lacked an efficient off-mechanism. Baliga discovered how to fix this flaw, eventually creating the insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT).

IGBTs are now used in electronic devices around the world. Everything from household appliances, to automobiles, to air conditioners, solar cells, and portable defibrillators use this technology, and the efficiencies made possible through the IGBT have saved by some estimates $15 trillion and benefitted millions. Baliga says of his work, “In my case, service to humanity was my mission.”

By Casey Samulski

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