Partial Discharge Analysis under High-Frequency, Fast-Rise Square Wave Voltages in Silicone Gel: A Modeling Approach
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Wide bandgap (WBG) power modules able to tolerate high voltages and currents are the most promising solution to reduce the size and weight of the power management and conversion systems. These systems are envisioned to be widely used in the power grid and the next generation of more (and possibly all) electric aircraft, ships, and vehicles. However, accelerated aging of silicone gel when being exposed to high frequency, fast rise-time voltage pulses that can offset or even be an obstacle for using WBG-based systems. Silicone gel is used to insulate conductor parts in the module and encapsulate the module. It has less electrical insulation strength than the substrate and is susceptible to partial discharges (PDs). PDs often occur in the cavities located close to high electric field regions around the sharp edges of metallization in the gel. The vulnerability of silicone gel to PDs occurred in the cavities under repetitive pulses with a high slew rate investigated in this paper. The objective mentioned above is achieved by developing a Finite-Element Analysis (FEA) PD model for fast, repetitive voltage pulses. This work has been done for the first time to the best of our knowledge. By using the model, the influence of frequency and slew rate on the magnitude and rate of PD events is studied.