What Is the Primary Function of an IGBT Power Module in Electronic Circuits?

IGBT Power Module in Electronic Circuits

The primary function of the IGBT power module is to switch direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), and vice versa. IGBT modules are widely used in power electronic applications including industrial machines, UPS uninterruptible power supplies and electric vehicles (EV/HEV).

An IGBT (insulated gate bipolar transistor) is a semiconductor die that is packaged by IGBT module manufacturers to provide a complete power conversion circuit. In other words, the IGBT power module consists of an IGBT semiconductor die and FWD freewheeling diode to act as a circuit bridge. The IGBT modules are also available with integrated gate drivers and AC/DC converters to provide a complete system solution.

IGBTs are voltage controlled devices, which means they only need a small amount of power at the gate to maintain conduction through the device. This is in contrast to BJTs, which require a constant base current to maintain saturation. IGBT module can also only switch current in the forward direction, from collector to emitter, unlike MOSFETs, which can also switch current in the reverse direction.

What Is the Primary Function of an IGBT Power Module in Electronic Circuits?

When the gate voltage is zero the IGBT is in the off state, or cutoff region. When the gate voltage is increased past the threshold voltage the IGBT enters the active region and current flows from the collector to the emitter.

An IGBT can be turned off by decreasing the gate voltage to below its cutoff threshold. In the off state, holes are injected from the P+ base into the N-drift region, modulating its conductivity and reducing its resistance. This allows the IGBT to have a low on-state voltage, even at high switching speeds.

IGBTs can have a large number of variations on the basic structure, which impacts their performance and reliability. For example, the dimensions of the N-drift layer, gate oxide thickness and doping density have a large impact on the IGBT’s dynamic characteristics. The IGBT’s switching speed, on-state voltage drop and withstand capability are all related to these factors.

Despite these limitations, IGBTs remain very popular in a variety of applications. It is important to understand the physical reasons behind these limitations so that they can be accounted for during the design process. Taking these limitations into account can help reduce the risk of failure during operation.

Semikron Danfoss offers a wide range of IGBT modules in SEMITRANS, SEMiX, SKiM and MiniSKiiP packages with different topologies, current ratings and voltage classes. These modules are designed for use in a variety of applications and can be assembled into half-bridge, full-bridge, sixpack or chopper IGBT power modules. These modules are sintered and have spring or press-fit contacts, which provides easy and safe mounting. They are also available with CAL diodes, which allow them to be used in various IGBT topologies such as CIB, half-bridge, H-bridge and 3-level.

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