Letter from the editor
The power electronics industry, ranging from ac-dc power supplies to Zener diodes, topped $70 billion in 2006. While this industry is typically thought of as providing a product that is a "necessary evil," it must be extremely important to generate that type of revenue. Instead of the "necessary evil" perception that this industry is given, power electronics is in fact the great enabler of the overall electronics industry.
Power electronics growth over the last 50 years stems from thousands of steps forward. Some were large revolutionary leaps that created whole new industries or products; others were baby steps that simply improved on an existing design. This issue is dedicated to the power innovators that delivered the largest steps. We are honored to present you with articles written by three of the most influential innovators: Robert Mammano, who is widely regarded as "the father of the PWM Controller IC;" Patrizio Vinciarelli, who is Vicor's founder and creator of the high-density dc-dc converter bricks; and Alex Lidow, the CEO of International Rectifier, who was the first to successfully commercialize the MOSFET.
In total, 17 events were selected as the Power "Milestones that Mattered." These ranged from the germanium power transistors that facilitated the first transistor radios to lithium-ion batteries that fuel the needs of today's latest portable devices. Nearly every milestone created advances that lead to the more efficient use of energy. Few other industries can boast that nearly every improvement has made the world greener.
Additionally, after reflection on the milestones of the past, several potential milestones of the future are presented. It will be fun to look back in ten years, to see what companies emerge as the true innovators in such emerging areas as digital power and ultra-low-power wireless ICs.
Jeremiah BryantManaging Research AnalystDarnell Group