Design and Validation of a High-Density 10 kV Silicon Carbide MOSFET Power Module with Reduced Electric Field Strength and Integrated Common-Mode Screen

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Virginia Tech

Electricity is the fastest-growing type of end-use energy consumption in the world, and its generation and usage trends are changing. Hence, the power electronics that control the flow and conversion of electrical energy are an important research area. Advanced power electronics with improved efficiency, power density, reliability, and functionality are critical in data center, transportation, motor drive, renewable energy, and grid applications, among others.

Wide-bandgap power semiconductors are enabling power electronics to meet these growing demands, and have thus begun appearing in commercial products, such as traction and solar inverters. Looking ahead, even greater strides can be made in medium-voltage systems due to the development of silicon carbide power devices with voltage ratings exceeding 10 kV. The ability of these devices to switch higher voltages faster and with lower losses than existing semiconductor technologies will drastically reduce the size, weight, and complexity of medium-voltage systems. However, these devices also bring new challenges for designers.

This dissertation will present a package for 10 kV silicon carbide power MOSFETs that addresses the enhanced electric fields, greater electromagnetic interference, worsened dynamic imbalance, and higher heat flux issues associated with the packaging of these unique devices. Specifically, due to the low and balanced parasitic inductances, the power module prototype is able to switch at record speeds of tens of nanoseconds with negligible ringing and voltage overshoot. An integrated common-mode current screen contains the current that is generated by these fast voltage transients within the power module, rather than flowing to the system ground. This screen connection simultaneously increases the partial discharge inception voltage by reducing the electric field strength at the triple point of the insulating ceramic substrate. Further, field-grading plates are used in the bus bar to reduce the electric field strength at the module terminations. The heat flux is addressed by employing direct-substrate, jet-impingement cooling. The cooler is integrated into the module housing for increased power density.

power electronics, silicon carbide, packaging, high voltage, electromagnetic interference