Power Electronics Research Group

Power cables going into a network © Shutterstock

What is Power Electronics?

The Power Electronics Lab is a graduate research laboratory specialising in the fast growing field of Power Electronics. This field is very wide, ranging from small power supplies (50W) to high voltage static convertors (1.2GW).

Most of the research in this lab is in the use of switching Power Electronics. Some members of the Power Systems Group study large high voltage convertors used in HVDC (high voltage DC) systems, others study the smart driving of motors, and yet others study the application of pulse converters to biomedical applications.

Power Electronics is more Electronics than it is Power. We still use transistors, diodes, resistors and capacitors, along with more specialised devices such as IGBTs (insulated gate bipolar transistors). The emphasis in this lab is to build working 'things' and the use of these to solve a problem.

Examples of past and present research include:

  • Electric Car Projects (eg Quad-bike, Jet-ski, MR2, Land Cruiser)
  • Variable speed AC motor drives
  • HV Pulse inverter for cancer therapy and liquid disinfection
  • Active power filter (power-line conditioning)
  • Characterisation and use of Silicon-Carbide devices in telecommunications power converters
  • High power lead-acid battery charger
  • Smart power converter for small power generation systems (developing country application)

Most research involves the use of switching power electronics. Switching power supplies and amplifiers are far more efficient than their linear counterparts. This becomes very important when the power levels are large, if the power supply is limited (as in a battery powered device), or both (as in an electric car).

Power Electronics brings together theory from all aspects of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The main disciplines are:

  • Analogue electronics
  • Control theory
  • Analogue communications
  • Electromagnetics
  • Electrical machines

However, the following fields are becoming increasingly important:

  • Digital electronics
  • Computer hardware
  • Embedded software engineering

See Postgraduate study to find the current research projects.

Specialist Power Electronic courses are offered in 2nd and 3rd Professional

Second Professional Year Course

  • ENEL372 - Power and Analogue Electronics

Third Professional Year Course

Academic Staff

Technical Staff

  • Ken Smart (NZCE)

For advice

Paul Gaynor

Associate Professor
Associate Head of Department
Link Rm 506
Internal Phone: 94346

Neville Watson

Director of Studies, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, EEE 4th Year Coordinator
Link Rm 515
Internal Phone: 94542

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