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COUPLED INDUCTORS –
circuit of Figure 1 as an integral part of a
converter, missing the point that it is a lin-
ear two-port which can be analyzed inde-
A BASIC FILTER BUILDING BLOCK pendently and added to a wide variety of cir-
cuits. This points to a need for analysis and
ROBERT BALOG inductors) and a dc blocking capacitor. modeling, to allow the routine application
PHILIP T. KREIN Together, they form a basic filter building of such circuits.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT block shown in Figure 1.
URBANA – CHAMPAIGN PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION
DAVID C. HAMILL The coupled inductor is schematically
represented in Figure 2.
UNIVERSITY OF SURREY
GUILDFORD, UK

Abstract: Coupled magnetics and


coupled filters can provide smooth-
ing in power converter applications. Because these components form a linear
This paper describes a general-pur- two-port filter, the building block can be
implemented in any dc circuit to reduce the
pose coupled inductor filter building
ripple current wherever a choke is current-
block. The coupled inductor circuit The addition of a dc blocking capacitor
ly used. Thus it may be applied to the dc
model is presented, starting with forms a two port linear filter. The goal is to
input of a converter, its dc output, or an
produce a low ac current (ideally zero) at
the basic topology with ideal circuit internal dc link (in applications such as
the quiet port. It can be misleading to think
elements. Real circuit elements are motor drives or HVDC transmission).
of the smoothing transformer’s windings as
then substituted for the ideal ele- The concept described here is not a new
a primary and secondary. Hence we label
one. It has surfaced in many forms over the
ments and the effects of ESR dis- them the "dc" and "ac" windings to indicate
years, but it nonetheless appears to be little
cussed. Experimental results are known, and is not well understood.
their purpose in the circuit. The dc winding
provided for a typical application. carries a heavy direct current (like a
Lastly, the effect of a turns ratio smoothing choke), while the ac winding
The purpose of this paper is fourfold:
carries only a small ac ripple current.
between the "ac" and "dc" windings • To bring the technique to the attention
The port labeled Vn in Figure 1 is con-
is explored. of a wider audience;
nected to the noisy, unfiltered, source
• To give a simple explanation of its opera-
represented in as a dc source with ac
tion, avoiding magnetic theory;
INTRODUCTION noise (Figure 2.) In the case of a power
• To show how it can be usefully applied
Coupled-inductor and other integrated- supply, this could be the output of the
in practice;
magnetic techniques have existed for many switching circuit. Superposition allows
• To give an indication of broader possibil-
years, but most power electronics engineers Vn to be expressed as the sum of a dc
ities for coupled magnetic devices.
are uncomfortable with them. This may be component (Vdc) and an ac component
because of limited experience with coupled (vac). The port labeled Vq in Figure 1 is
magnetics. Or it could be explained by the HISTORY AND REINVENTION the filtered "quiet" port.
level of complexity in many treatments of Coupled magnetics were more common
coupled magnetic devices. Unlike most net- early in the history of rectification. The cir- If C is large then the ac voltage (vac) across
works, coupled-inductor techniques involve cuit of Figure 1 was known in 1930 [1], [2]. it due to ripple current becomes zero.
simultaneous parallel energy-transfer path- Since that time, it has been described in
ways: electrical and magnetic. Despite the various texts [3], [5], yet authors have
difficulty, the circuits are useful and claimed to "invent" it on multiple occasions
deserve to be better appreciated. since then (refer to PESC paper [6].) Even
The technique described in this paper as recently as 1998 [7], the circuit was
replaces a series smoothing choke with a introduced as new. The recent power elec- Applying KVL, the ripple voltage, vac, must
"smoothing transformer" (a pair of coupled tronics work seems to treat the smoothing then appear across the inductor Lac.

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Assuming perfect coupling and a one to one The transfer function of the equivalent cir- appears. We can take advantage of the cou-
turns ratio, the ac ripple voltage in the Lac cuit in terms of Figure 1 is: pled inductor in this mode as a notch filter.
winding will transfer to the Ldc winding. For values of k >knull, there is no notch and
Applying KVL on the quiet port confirms worse high frequency attenuation than a
that Vq contains only the dc component of simple second order filter. This mode of
the noisy port voltage Thus, the coupled operation is not useful.
inductor can be thought of as serving two The structure of the transfer function
functions: appears to be similar to that of the second C. Ideal capacitor with finite load resistance
order filter with a frequency dependent
1) An energy storage element for the term s2CLac appearing in both the numera-
switching power supply. tor and denominator. The location of the
2) A "signal transformer" for ripple current transfer function zero depends on the value
steering. of the coupling coefficient k. At low fre-
Our goal is to take advantage of this current quencies, the gain is unity and at high fre-
steering ability. quencies the gain in dB is given by the
expression: In practice, the filter will be connected to a
ANALYSIS AND SIMULATION finite load impedance as in Figure 4.
We begin the examination of the perform- Assuming that the load is purely resistive,
ance of the coupled inductor with the basic the transfer function is realized as:
B. Second order low pass mode
model and add elements one by one until
An interesting mode of operation occurs
we have the full realization, including
at the null condition. The location of the
imperfections such as ESR effects.
zero in the transfer function depends on
the coupling coefficient, k. There exists a
A. Finite blocking capacitance
k that causes the infinite frequency gain When the load resistance is large, the limit
The standard "T" equivalent for magnetic
to equal zero: becomes equation (3.)
circuits can
be used to aid
D. Second order notch mode
in analyzing
Consider the numerator of equation (3.)
the coupled
When k=knull, the s2LacC term disappears Lac and Cac form a series resonant circuit,
inductor:
from the numerator. The coupled inductor reducing the impedance of that leg to, in
degenerates into a second order filter with principle, zero for the frequency given by
Figure 3: Equivalent "T" model
the characteristic -40 dB/ decade rolloff. equation (8) obtained by setting the numer-
plus the capacitor
M is the mutual inductance of the two coils ator of the transfer function to zero
and is related to the coupling coefficient.

M = k L ac Ldc It should be noted that the null condition


second order low pass filter is composed of
Lac and C rather than Ldc and C as one The value of k√(Ldc/Lac) must not be too
The factor k, the coupling coefficient repre-
might expect in a typical low pass filter. close to unity, or the notch frequency will be
sents the flux linkage between the two
Since Lac is typically less than Ldc (see sec- extremely sensitive to changes in k, Ldc and
windings. Permissible values of k are
tion IX on construction of coupled induc- Lac. On the other hand, k√(Ldc/Lac) should
0<k<1. A value of 1 means that all the flux
tors), the cutoff frequency for the null con- be close to unity for good attenuation of fre-
linking coil Lac, also links coil Ldc. In prac-
dition will be slightly higher than that of the quencies above ωnotch as the asymptotic
tice, values of k >0.9 are easily achievable.
simple second order filter Ldc and Cdc. high frequency gain is 1 – k√(Ldc/Lac). In a
Since the coupling coefficient depends on
practical design, a compromise is required.
geometry, changes in wire spacing or incon-
sistent winding techniques can cause varia- Further, it turns out that knull is a boundary When k = knull, wnotch moves to infinity, giv-
condition for the formation of a notch. For ing the low-pass mode. If k = knull there is
tions from sample to sample. As we will see,
values of k < knull, the zero frequency is no real value of ωnotch and no notch
the operating regime of the coupled induc-
greater than the pole frequency and a notch appears.
tor is dependent on k.

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Figure 5 compares the effect of a terminat- We have observed some of the affects of cir- the high frequency response flattens out
ing load resistance for various values of k cuit resistance in Figure 5. In addition to (equation (4)) while the simple second
using a coupled inductor with Lac=240 µH, providing another system pole (high fre- order filter continues to roll off at 40 dB per
Ldc=250 µH and a capacitor C=100µF. quency roll-off), the load resistance also decade.
The null condition occurs when k= 0.98 helps to dampen the overshoot at the cutoff
(from equation(4).) The graph illustrates frequency of the filter. Both of these effects REAL CAPACITOR
the sensitivity of the notch to the coupling are beneficial in a filtering application AND OUTPUT RESISTANCE
coefficient k. Adding output resistance to the circuit
In the previous section, the circuit model model does not affect the filter perform-
The value of the coupling coefficient k is used an ideal capacitor. The resonance set ance significantly provided that at the fre-
affected by the manufacturing process of the up by the series Lac and Cac is the mecha- quencies of interest, and well above dc, the
inductor and can vary from lot to lot. To nism responsible for the formation of the impedance of the ac branch is much less
ensure that the coupled inductor always notch. From circuit theory, we recall that than the impedance of the dc branch such
operates in the notch mode, the design of the series resistance in an LC circuit dampens that the ripple current diverts predomi-
inductor should place k well below knull. out the sharp resonance. This has the nantly into the ac branch and away from the
potential of reducing or eliminating the load. Practically, this translates into a
attenuation benefit of the notch. required minimum load impedance.

Figure 6 expands the "T" magnetic model to


FOURTH ORDER MODE
include the ESR of the capacitor and resist-
At frequencies above the notch, the second
ance of the inductor winding.
order mode response is governed by the
pole formed by Ldc and Rload. A second pole
can be introduced by connecting a capaci-
tor Cdc across the "quiet port."

The coupled inductor in this basic form


appears to offer an alternative to the second
order filter. However, the penalty paid for Figure 7 examines the damping effect of the
the deep notch response is a reduced high ESR in the capacitor. Notice that for ESR
frequency response. values as little as 0.1Ω, the notch disap-
Table 1 pears.
Attenuation at
Mode of operation frequency of notch
Second order filter -40 dB The true benefit of the coupled
Notch w/ k= 0.97 -120 dB inductor now becomes apparent:
Difference 80 db more than one inductance is inte-
grated into one magnetic structure,
If the notch can be designed at an arbitrary which makes a fourth order filter
frequency, the fundamental switching fre- possible using only three compo-
quency of a power converter for example, nents.
significant attenuation can be achieved.

ESR EFFECT OF A REAL CAPACITOR


In a practical circuit, the windings of the
inductor will have copper loss and the
capacitors will have equivalent series Without a notch mode, our simple model of
resistances (ESR). These losses add damp- the coupled inductor offers no benefit over
ing and affect the ripple attenuation. the simple second order filter. Even worse,

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The value of Cdc should be chosen such that only one magnetic component. However,
the Cdc, Ldc pole is placed at a higher fre- the design is extremely sensitive to values of
quency than the pole formed by Cdc, Ldc. k. In this case k=0.98 is the null condition.
k=0.97 and 0.99 eliminated the fourth order
The equation for the circuit model with behavior and in fact, as depicted on the
ideal components is: graph, may even move a peak into the fre-
quency range that we are interested in
attenuating the most.

EXPERIMENTAL
With Cac set to zero, the coupled inductor TEST AND COMPARISON
becomes a simple second order filter with We examine the complete model of the cou-
Ldc and Cdc as the circuit elements and is pled inductor including capacitor ESR and
shown in Figure 10 for comparison purposes. load resistance:

Once again we notice that for values of k


less than the null condition, there is the
appearance of the frequency notch. At high
frequencies, the filter slope is governed by
the Cdc, Ldc pole and rolls off at –40 db /
decade. If the frequency of the notch can
be arbitrarily designed, then the coupled
inductor can yield better results than the
simple second order filter while using the
same magnetic volume. A word of caution:
TYPICAL APPLICATION:
a frequency peak occurs just below the
BUCK CONVERTER
notch frequency. If the fundamental
Although not the only application for the
switching frequency of the converter varies
coupled inductor, the buck converter is an
then the proximity of the peak may actually The parameters of the coupled inductor ideal choice to demonstrate the usefulness
worsen the performance of the output filter. used were Lac=240µH, Ldc=250µH, and of the coupled inductor. Figure 14 illus-
k=0.98. The inductor's coupling coefficient trates the power electronics portion of a
Imposing the null condition once again is below knull=0.9997 indicating notch mode buck converter topology.
presents an unusual condition. After the regime. The capacitors were selected such
second peak, the filter slope is now gov- that Cdc=Cac= 10µF and provided a simple
erned by four poles and rolls off at the –80 second order cutoff frequency of 3kHz. The
dB per decade slope of a fourth order filter. value of the ESR was determined based on
This operating condition may be used to the coil dc resistance and the ESR of the
provide a fourth order filter effect using capacitor.

In Figure 12, at 50 kHz the coupled inductor The traditional inductor has been replaced
provides, theoretically, an additional 5 dB of with a coupled inductor and capacitor used
suppression compared to the second order in the previous section. The gate drive, gen-
filter. Notice that due to the ESR effects, erated elsewhere, has a fundamental
the notch is not apparent. However, the switching frequency of 50 kHz.
5dB increase in attenuation can still pro- Figure 15 shows the circuit waveform without
vide a filtering advantage. Cdc (only the coupled inductor and capacitor
from Figure 1.) As expected, the inductor
The plot from a network analyzer in Figure current (lower trace) is triangular. The
13 shows the performance of the experi- upper trace, the voltage across Cac, is also tri-
mental filter to closely match the perform- angular and includes an ESR voltage jump.
ance predicted by the model.

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smaller device. Figure 18 shows the output ripple voltage of


Using the parameters for the 1:5 coupled the buck converter from section VI with a
inductor from Table 3 and equation (8), the simple second order low pass filter. As
value of Cac needed to tune the coupled expected the 50 kHz switching frequency is
inductor filter for a notch a 50 kHz is 3.35 the dominant component.
nF. The theoretical filter response is shown
in Figure 16.

Table 2 compares the output voltage ripple


for three circuit configurations. The second
configuration is recognizable as the typical
second order output filter.

Using the 1:5 coupled filter, the 50 kHz fun-


From the circuit model using ideal compo- damental frequency is severely attenuated.
nents (no ESR), the notch is calculated to The output waveform in Figure 19 now looks
have 35 dB more attenuation that the sim- significantly different. With the absence of
It is observed that with the addition of the ple second order filler. Including typical the 50 kHz components, the higher order
second capacitor, Cac, the output filter pro- ESR values, the 1:5 filter provides a 15 dB harmonics are more pronounced.
vides an additional 4.6dB reduction in the notch with respect to the simple second
output ripple voltage, consistent with the order filter.
5db predicted by the model.

COUPLED INDUCTOR
WITH TURNS RATIO
So far we have examined coupled inductors
with turns rations of 1:1, that is, the dc
inductor and ac inductor have the same
number of turns and therefore approxi-
mately the same inductance. With the addi-
tion of a third component, the "ac" side
capacitor, a reduction in output ripple volt-
age was achieved. Recall that the coupled
inductor may be thought of as a signal
transformer. It may be useful to exploit this The Bode plot of the experimental result is MEASURING K
fact and use a turns ratio to "scale" the shown in Figure 17 and confirms the theo- For successful implementation, it is vital to
required value of the ac side capacitor. retical model. The second notch around know the coupling coefficient k. Here we
250 kHz is the result of other circuit effects give two methods for measuring k experi-
Inductance is proportional to the number of and is not significant in the study of the cou- mentally. All measurements must be taken
turns squared. Therefore, in a 1:5 ratio, the pled inductor. at a low enough frequency that parasitic
inductance of the ac winding is increased capacitance is negligible. The methods do
by a factor of 25. It is desired to keep the A disadvantage of using a non-unity turns not need calibrated inductance measure-
same frequency response (i.e., same Lac-Cac ration is reduced high frequency attenua- ments, as they depend only on ratios,
resonant frequency). Therefore, the capac- tion. In practical filtering applications, the although it is useful to perform the meas-
itor must decrease by a factor of 25. advantage of notch frequency attenuation urements with a dc current source in place
Physical size is related to capacitance, so a must be weighted against reduced high fre- to set the correct bias level.
smaller value capacitor means a physically quency attenuation.

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A. Open/short-circuit inductance method around the dc winding, followed by the ac [5] R.P. Severns and G.E. Bloom, Modern
DC-to-DC Switchmode Power Converter
The inductance of winding 1 is measured port winding. Since the ac coil carries only Circuits, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold,
with winding 2 open-circuited (L1) and the ripple current it can be wound using 1985, Figs. 8.5A, 12.13, 12.14 and 12.16.
short-circuited (L1,sc). The coupling coeffi- small diameter wire. As a result, the cou-
[6] D. C. Hamill and P. T. Krein, "A ‘Zero’ ripple
cient is calculated from: pled inductor can typically use the same technique applicable to any converter" in
core as a single inductor depending on the Rec., IEEE Power Electronics Specialists
Conf., 1999, pp. 1165-1171.
fill factor and window size.
[7] D.K.W. Cheng, X.C. Liu and Y.S. Lee, "A new
improved boost converter with ripple free
CONCLUSIONS input current using coupled inductors",
Power Electronics and Variable Speed
By integrating two inductors into one mag- Drives Conf., Sept. 1998, IEE conf. publ. no.
A second value of k can be obtained from netic structure, it is possible to achieve 456, pp. 592–599.
winding 2. The resulting two values of k can fourth order filtering using only three com-
then be averaged. This method is particu- ponents. The interaction between these Robert Balog received his BSEE degree at the
larly suitable when k is close to unity, as it two inductors has interesting properties College of Engineering, Rutgers University, in
then gives an accurate result despite possi- 1996. He began his profes-sional career as a
that vary with the operating regime. By tak- design engi-neer with Lutron Electronics. He is
ble difficulty in measuring L1,sc. However, it ing advantage of a turns ratio, the coupled currently pursuing a MSEE at the University of
is unsuitable when the winding resistances Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research
inductor becomes a tuned notch filter with interests are in the areas of power electronics and
are substantial. minimal component count. analog circuits.

Philip T. Krein received the B.S. degree in electri-


B. Series aiding/opposing inductance method cal engineering and the A.B. degree in economics
In this method, four inductance readings Table 3: Sample coupled inductors and business from Lafayette College, Easton,
Pennsylvania, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in
are taken. First, with the other winding electrical engineering from the University of
Parameter 1:1 inductor 1:5 inductor
open-circuited, the individual winding self- DC Inductor
Illinois, Urbana. He was a design engineer at
inductances are measured (L1 and L2). Tektronix in Beaverton, Oregon. In 1987 he
Turns 25 26 returned to the University of Illinois, where he is
Then the two windings are connected in Inductance 151.9 µH 165.7 µH now Professor and Director of the Grainger Center
Wire Gauge 22 AWG for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics. Dr.
series and their combined inductance is
Resistance 0.074 Ω 0.077 Ω Krein is a Fellow of the IEEE. His research inter-
measured, in series-aiding connection AC Inductor ests are in power electronics and electromechan-
(Laid) and series-opposing (Lopp). (Note Turns 25 130 ics. In 1997-98, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the
Inductance 151.8 µH 4.095 µH University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
that Laid > Lopp always, and that Laid – Lopp
Wire Gauge 28
= 4M). The coupling coefficient is calcu- Resistance 0.252 Ω 1.578 Ω
David C. Hamill was born in London, England.
He received his bachelor's and master's degrees
lated from: Coupling Coefficient k .9802 .985 from the University of Southampton
(Southampton, UK) and his PhD from the
University of Surrey (Guildford, UK). After prac-
ticing as a design engineer and a consultant, he
was technical director of PAG Ltd (London, UK)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS for seven years. In 1986 he joined the University of
R. Balog is supported through the Grainger Center Surrey, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer in
for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics at the Surrey Space Centre. His research interests
An advantage is low sensitivity to winding the University of Illinois. P. Krein was supported include dc-dc conversion, space power systems
in part as a Fulbright Scholar through the and nonlinear dynamics.
resistance. This method is unsuitable when Fulbright Commission in the United Kingdom.
k is small, as in that case it depends on the Dr Hamill was an Associate Editor of the IEEE
Transactions on Power Electronics, 1994-96. He is
difference between two similar quantities. References a Senior Member of the IEEE, a member of the IEE,
and a Chartered Engineer.
[1] O.K. Marti and H. Winograd, Mercury Arc
CONSTRUCTION Rectifiers, Theory and Practice, McGraw-Hill,
The coupled inductors used in this paper 1930, p.419, Fig. 221.
were constructed on a 2616PA250-3B9 pot [2] G.B. Crouse, Electrical Filter, US Patent
core. This core has an effective permeabili- 1,920,948, August, 1933.
ty of 78µº. Table 3 provides specs for the [3] R. Lee, Electronic Transformers and
coupled inductors used in this paper. Circuits. New York: John Wiley, 1947, p. 97.

[4] R.W. Landee, D.C. Davis and A.P. Albrecht,


The dc port inductor was wound onto the Electronic Designers Handbook,
McGraw-Hill, 1957, p. 15-21, Fig. 15.22.
core first. Dielectric tape was wrapped

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