A man of average size with a very small carbon footprint

Jayant Baliga is a man of average size, but he probably has the world's smallest footprint.

Carbon footprint, that is.

Baliga, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University, is the inventor of a power-saving switch that prevents 1.4 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year, at a cost savings of $300 billion.

And by saving 125 gigawatts of power each year, Baliga has offset the carbon footprint of 175 million people. You'd have to plant tens of millions of trees to achieve the same effect.

Now he may make big changes in the nation's electrical grid. He's a finalist for a National Science Foundation grant that would support research into how to deliver energy more efficiently.

Meanwhile, consumers already use Baliga's technology every time they turn on a television, power up a computer or switch on the air conditioning. Each year, 100,000 cardiac arrest victims are shocked back to life with his help, while, across the globe, Japanese bullet-train riders are whisked to work each morning because of his breakthrough.

Baliga, who also directs N.C. State's Power Semiconductor Research Center, likes to joke that, "everybody uses my devices, but nobody knows it."

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