BATT CAVE Electrifying Experts: Tiefu Zhao

Categories: General News

Tiefu Zhao’s interest in researching electrical power began as a Ph.D. student more than a decade ago. Specifically, it was the potential of renewable energy sources to help build a more sustainable society that captured his attention.

“Power electronics is the branch of electrical engineering devoted to high voltages and currents, so it is the backbone of electrification for our society; it is how we control and convert electrical power,” said Zhao, BATT CAVE’s interim director. While completing his doctorate, he explored revolutionizing solid-state transformers to replace the 100-year-old design still in use. Connecting solar panels and wind turbines to the nation’s power grid is complex due to the mismatch in converting direct current generated by renewable systems to the alternating current of the grid.

His first stop after graduating was a research and development position with Eaton Corporation, a power management company. There he led a global team and conducted advanced studies toward next-generation power electronic solutions related to the electrical sector. In 2016, with six years of industry experience, he joined UNC Charlotte.