Think Shrink.

Think Shrink

Introducing the Little Box Challenge

An open competition to build a (much) smaller power inverter, with a $1,000,000 prize.

Design and build a kW-scale inverter with the highest power density (at least 50 Watts per cubic inch).

Know what that means? Have a healthy disregard for the perceived limits of engineering?
Then you’re exactly who we’re looking for.

Presented by Google & IEEE

Congratulations to the Red Electrical Devils, $1,000,000
grand prize winners of the Little Box Challenge

Power Density: 143 W/in3

The Red Electrical Devils from CE+T Power were honored at a ceremony at the 2016 ARPA-E Summit in Washington DC. Two other teams, Schneider Electric and the VirginiaTech Future Energy Electronics Center, whose inverters passed 100 hours of testing at NREL were also recognized. More details are available on the Google Research Blog. Thank you to all the teams that participated.

Finalist Technical Approach Documents

As a condition of entering the competition, all teams agreed to have their technical approach documents, describing how they built their inverters, made public. We post links to the technical approach documents of the 18 finalists selected for testing at NREL here in order to recognize their achievements and in hopes of furthering the state of the art in power electronics. The documents can be accessed by clicking on the team name.

Grand Prize Winner

The Red Electrical Devils

(CE+T Power, Belgium)

Olivier Bomboir, Paul Bleus, Fabrice Frebel, Thierry Joannès, François Milstein, Pierre Stassain, Christophe Geuzaine, Carl Emmerechts, Philippe Laurent

Top 3 Finalists

Schneider Electric Team


Miao-xin Wang, Rajesh Ghosh, Srikanth Mudiyula, Radoslava Mitova, David Reilly, Milind Dighrasker, Sajeesh Sulaiman, Alain Dentella, Damir Klikic, Chandrashekar Devalapuraramegowda, Michael Hartmann, Vijaykumar Atadkar

Future Energy Electronics Center

(VirginiaTech, USA)

Jih-Sheng Lai, Lanhua Zhang, Xiaonan Zhao, Rachael Born, Chung-Yi Lin, Ming-Chang Chou, Shu-Shuo Chang, Kye Yak See

Remaining Finalists



Eckart Hoene, Johann W. Kolar, Dominik Bortis, Yanick Lobsiger, Dominik Neumayr, Oliver Knecht, Florian Krismer, Stefan Hoffmann, Adam Kuczmik, Oleg Zeiter, Franc Zajc

Adiabatic Logic


Geoff Harvey, Alan Walbridge, Steve Love



Alexander Huenten



Agustin Reibel

Cambridge Active Magnetics


John Wood, Ed Shelton, Tim Regan, Ellen Wood, Kyle Rogers, Dr Kevin Rathbone, Sam Harrup



Evgeny Sboychakov, Ruslan Kotelnikov

Fraunhofer IISB


Bernd Eckardt, Stefan Endres, Maximilian Hofmann, Stefan Matlok, Thomas Menrath, Martin März, Stefan Zeltner



Jack Zhu, Mari Ma



Martin Pietka, Andrej Teren, Marian Vranka, Lubos Drozd, Peter Sedlacko



Henk Oldenkamp



Ionel Jitaru, Nicolae Daniel Bolohan, Antonio Marco Davila

The University of Tennessee


Daniel Costinett, Leon Tolbert, Fred Wang, Chongwen Zhao, Bradford Trento, Ling Jiang, Rick Langley, John Jansen, Reid Kress, Anthony Brun

Tommasi - Bailly


Mike Tommasi, Alain Bailly

UIUC Pilawa Group


Robert Pilawa, Shibin Qin, Christopher Barth, Yutian Lei, Wen-Chuen Liu, Andrew Stillwell, Intae Moon, Derek Chou, Thomas Foulkes



Herbert Venderbosch, Gerard Bruggink

Cooler-sized Isn’t Cool

Inverters are the essential boxes that take direct current from devices such as solar panels and batteries and turn it into alternating current for use in homes, businesses, and cars.

The problem is household inverters are too big—roughly the size of a picnic cooler. Making them smaller would enable more solar-powered homes, more efficient distributed electrical grids, and could help bring electricity to the most remote parts of the planet.

That’s where you come in: figure out how to shrink an inverter down to something smaller than a small laptop (a reduction of > 10× in volume) and smaller than everyone else, and you’ll win a million dollars (and help revolutionize electricity for the next century).

Learn more about inverters

If all of this can run on something this suitcase-sized, then why not something tablet sized?


First, the competition dates:

September 2014

  • Applicants contemplating competing in the prize must register their team by the registration deadline: September 30, 2014.
  • Eligible academics interested in pursuing grant funding must apply by the grant application deadline: September 30, 2014 by visiting the University Relations site.

July 2015

  • Registered teams must submit a technical approach and testing application by July 22, 2015.

October 2015

  • Up to 18 finalists will be notified of their selection for final testing at the testing facility. They are required to bring their inverters in person to a testing facility in United States by October 21, 2015.

February - March 2016

  • The grand prize winner will be announced sometime in February or March, 2016.

Testing Facility: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Google and the IEEE Power Electronics Society have announced that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, USA will be the testing facility for the competition. Up to 18 finalist teams will be invited to bring their inverters for extended testing (up to approximately 100 hours) at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) using state of the art equipment and supervised by world-class technical staff. The results will help us ensure that the best entry wins. When they come to Colorado, the finalists will also be invited to attend an event hosted by Google, the IEEE Power Electronics Society and NREL, where they will get a chance to discuss and present on their designs as well as get a tour of the facility.

Device Manufacturers

One promising set of new technologies which may allow for the achievement of higher power densities are wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, such as Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Silicon Carbide (SiC). Below are a list of WBG device manufacturers who have made pages describing their technology, how it might enable contestants to win the competition and opportunities for obtaining some of their devices.

Are you a wide bandgap device manufacturer that thinks it should be listed above? Click here for an application to be listed (must be submitted by 9/30/2014 to be considered).


Are you an academic interested in trying to win The Little Box Challenge? Research at Google is also making a limited number of awards of available to academics in concert with the prize. Visit their website here.


Got some questions? Here are some answers.

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