Gate driver developed for circuit bipolar transistor electronic switches

Wednesday, 05 April, 2023

Gate driver developed for circuit bipolar transistor electronic switches

The precise control of larger electrical devices requires sophisticated electronics where electronic timers may not suffice. Scientists from the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo have developed a programmable gate driver for solid-state electronic transistor switches. Empirical tests showed reduced switching loss even under changes in input current and temperature fluctuations.

Insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) are semiconductor electronic elements that can be used in rapid electronic switches of high-powered devices. Because they can control electric loads up to hundreds of kilowatts, IGBTs are suitable for operating power supplies, traction motors, or induction heaters. In addition, due to their ability to switch on and off quickly, IGBTs can also be used for control systems in industrial applications. However, these switches can experience switching loss based on variations in the input current or temperature. Creating a device with automatic timing would help improve the reliability of these systems.

The researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed an active digital gate driver integrated circuit (IC) with a fully integrated automatic timing control function that achieves both single-chip integration and real-time control. First author Dibo Zhang said the IC includes a 6-bit programmable gate with closed-loop active gate drivers. An important feature of the IC was the inclusion of real-time automatic control functions on a single chip. This is done by detecting the rate of change of the current as a function of time by sensing the voltage of the parasitic inductance, which is an unavoidable effect present in electronic devices.

The researchers tested the performance of the new device over a range of temperatures. Their single-chip integration of a timing mechanism allowed for lower cost while maintaining precise control. The fact that it remained stable under fluctuating operating conditions allowed a single programmable device to replace a collection of different products optimised for different situations.

“Being able to provide programmable, real-time control at low cost should hasten adoption of this type of device,” said Makoto Takamiya, senior author. This work may lead to more flexible and reliable control of large electrical currents, and future designs may be extended to include more complex programming features.

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