EPC Posts Article on Low Voltage GaN FETs in Motor Control Applications

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Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) has posted a new article named “Low-Voltage GaN FETs in Motor Control Application; Issues and Advantages: A Review” in the Energies Journal. In the field of motion control, there is a growing use of GaN devices, especially in low voltage applications. This paper provides guidelines for designers on the optimal use of GaN FETs in motor control applications, identifying the advantages and discussing the main issues.

The efficiency and power density improvement of power switching converters play a crucial role in energy conversion. In the field of motor control, this requires an increase in the converter switching frequency together with a reduction in the switching legs’ dead time. This target turns out to be complex when using pure silicon switch technologies. Gallium Nitride (GaN) devices have appeared in the switching device arena in recent years and feature much more favorable static and dynamic characteristics compared to pure silicon devices. In the field of motion control, there is a growing use of GaN devices, especially in low voltage applications.

This paper provides guidelines for designers on the optimal use of GaN FETs in motor control applications, identifying the advantages and discussing the main issues. In this work, primarily an experimental evaluation of GaN FETs in a low voltage electrical drive is carried out. The experimental investigation is obtained through two different experimental boards to highlight the switching legs’ behavior in several operative conditions and different implementations. In this evaluative approach, the main GaN FETs’ technological aspects and issues are recalled and consequently linked to motion control requirements. The device’s fast switching transients combined with reduced direct resistance contribute to decreased power losses. Thus, in GaN FETs, a high switching frequency with a strong decrease in dead time is achievable. The reduced dead time impact on power loss management and improvement of output waveforms quality is analyzed and discussed in this paper. Furthermore, this paper points out input filter capacitor design matters correlated with increasing switching frequency and considers the voltage transients slope effect (dv/dt), correlating it with low voltage motor drives requirements.

Click here to read the article by EPC.