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Reduction of power MOSFET losses in discrete diode with fast recovery characteristics until sufficient dead-time

hard-switched converters has passed. At this point both MOSFETs are activated, free-wheeling the
inductor current away from the discrete diode and through the channels
W.M. Blewitt and D.I. Gurwicz of the devices.

A new technique is proposed that will reduce the losses in MOSFET

based hard-switched power converters. This is achieved by eliminating
the poor reverse recovery effects associated with the internal body
diode, resulting in a significant reduction in switching losses and
improving conduction during current free-wheeling. The loss reduction
can be accomplished without adding any extra complexity to the gate
drive circuit or to the controller.

Introduction: Power MOSFETs are known for their high switching

speed and low gate drive energy requirement but have traditionally
been suited to lower voltage applications owing to the large channel
resistance RDS(on) that is inherent in higher voltage versions of the
device. Emerging devices with blocking voltages of 800 V are now
readily available with low channel resistance and as such are popular
for use in higher power inverters such as three-phase motor drives. Fig. 2 Improved blocking configuration
Power MOSFETs have an intrinsic anti-parallel body diode with very
poor reverse recovery characteristics, when compared to a discrete
diode. This is due to the large amount of stored charge that must be
recovered from the junction during turn off, which is the result of the
large area of this internal diode [1]. When used as free-wheeling
diodes in hard switched converters such as bridge circuits with inductive
loads, significant losses are incurred during switching owing to the large
reverse recovery energy. This effect can become a considerable problem
when a high switching frequency is required because the MOSFET
turn-on losses will contribute greatly to the total power dissipation.
A series connected diode can be used to block the body diode (Fig. 1)
and shunt the inductor current through an external diode with more
desirable recovery. This will eliminate conduction in the internal
diode, but energy saved during switching may be negated by conduction
losses in the forward diode.

Fig. 3 Experimental bridge configuration








Fig. 1 Existing method of blocking internal body diode
60 MOSFET only
improved switch
Method: Unlike IGBTs, a MOSFET channel can be used to pass current 55
in either direction [2], a technique that has been used in synchronous rec-
tifiers [3]. In a device with low channel resistance RDS(on) , losses are 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
minimal when compared to diode forward conduction. This property PWM frequency, kHz
can be utilised in a bridge circuit to shunt the inductor free-wheeling
current away from the body diode and through the channel, thus prevent- Fig. 4 Experimental results: switch efficiency against PWM frequency
ing activation of the diode. This reduces losses by two mechanisms: first,
by providing a low-loss path for the free-wheeling current to flow (the Owing to the clamping action of the external diode, the lower device
MOSFET channel), and, secondly, by eliminating additional switching need only be rated for low voltage and as such can be selected to have an
losses that would be inherent with body diode reverse recovery. extremely low RDS(on). The combination of devices shown in Fig. 2 is
Owing to the finite switching time of the MOSFETs, dead-time is used to replace a single switch in a bridge circuit. As the MOSFETs
required in a bridge circuit to prevent short circuiting of the DC bus are connected with common sources, they can be gated from the same
and causing shoot through. Using the MOSFET channel for current gate drive circuit, requiring no additional complexity of the controller.
free-wheeling without dead-time can result in large current spikes
through two series connected devices in the active state [4]. Experimental results and conclusions: This technique is experimentally
Implementing the necessary dead-time will thus normally cause the acti- verified using a single phase H-bridge (Fig. 3) configuration modulating
vation of the body diode to shunt the free-wheeling current and switch- a 50 Hz sinusoidal output current. With VDC ¼ 200 V running at
ing losses are subject to the undesirable effects of its reverse recovery. 0.5 kW with an RL load and a varied PWM carrier from 5 to 70 kHz
To allow dead-time and still prevent activation of the body diode, the and 1 ms dead-time. Upper device blocking voltage VBR ¼ 600 V
use of an additional series MOSFET connected with common sources with RDS(on) ¼ 35 mV (APT77N60JC3), lower device VBR ¼ 20 V
(Fig. 2) will block the free-wheeling current and shunt it through a with RDS(on) ¼ 1 mV (IRF1324S-7PPbF) and a fast external diode

ELECTRONICS LETTERS 28th August 2008 Vol. 44 No. 18

(CSD10120). Fig. 4 shows the efficiency of this new switching configur- References
ation when compared with only a high voltage MOSFET and a body
1 Dodge, J.: ‘Power MOSFET tutorial’, Advanced Power Technology
diode as the switching device over a range of PWM frequencies. The applications guide, (Microsemi application note)
results show that losses can be significantly reduced when using the 2 Ferreira, A., and Simas, M.I.C.: ‘Power MOSFETs reverse conduction
MOSFET channel to free-wheel inductive current in a hard-switched revisited’. Power Electronics Specialists Conf., June 1991, pp. 416–422
power converter. A second low voltage MOSFET is used in conjunction 3 Jinno, M., Chen, P.-Y., and Shie, Y.-M.: ‘Study on the reverse
with a fast recovery diode to allow adequate dead-time while giving conduction of synchronous rectifiers’. TENCON 2006. 2006 IEEE
minimal loss during forward conduction. This technique is particularly Region 10 Conf., November 2006, pp. 1– 4
useful when a high efficiency and high PWM switching frequency are 4 Huselstein, J.-J., Gauthier, C., and Glaize, C.: ‘Use of the MOSFET
required. channel reverse conduction in an inverter for suppression of the
integral diode recovery current’. Conf. on Power Electronics and
Applications, 1993, Vol. 2, pp. 431– 436
# The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2008
20 May 2008
Electronics Letters online no: 20081414
doi: 10.1049/el:20081414
W.M. Blewitt (Department of Electrical, Electronic & Computer
Engineering, Merz Court, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1
7RU, United Kingdom)
D.I. Gurwicz (TurboPowerSystems Ltd, Queens Way North, Team
Valley, Gateshead NE11 0NX, United Kingdom)

ELECTRONICS LETTERS 28th August 2008 Vol. 44 No. 18