Samantha Coday, UC Berkeley: “Efficient and Light-weight Multilevel Power Converters for Hybrid Electric Aircraft”

Position: PhD Candidate

Current Institution: UC Berkeley

Abstract: Efficient and Light-weight Multilevel Power Converters for Hybrid Electric Aircraft

Increased innovation within electric drivetrains is necessary to meet efficiency and weight requirements enabling the next generation of hybrid and eventually fully electric aircrafts. This work proposes inserting a regulation dc-dc boost stage into the standard hybrid electric powertrain allowing the battery architecture to remain at a lower voltage and vary during flight while still operating the inverter at its peak dc voltage. This work details the design of a Flying Capacitor Multilevel (FCML) Converter which relies primarily on capacitors for energy storage decreasing the overall system weight. The proposed converter topology also decreases the voltage stress on switches allowing for the utilization of wide bandgap devices. Using these design techniques a 10-level GaN-based dc-dc boost FCML which has a peak efficiency of over 99.5% and a specific power density of over 25 kW/kg is presented. This work also presents design techniques which increase reliability a common concern of high-level count converters due to their complexity and large number of components. Results of vibration shock and thermal flight qualification testing are presented as verification of converter reliability.


Samantha is a PhD candidate at University of California Berkeley advised by Dr. Robert Pilawa-Podgurski. Samantha received her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics in 2017 from Southern Methodist University in Dallas Texas. She then completed her Masters in 2019 at UC Berkeley. Her master’s thesis focused on modeling high energy density ceramic capacitors in switched capacitor applications. Her current research interests are in the design and implementation of light-weight multilevel switched capacitor power converters with applications in aerospace. Samantha has received awards for best conference presentation and outstanding graduate student instructor.