High-Frequency Oriented Design of Gallium-Nitride (GaN) Based High Power Density Converters

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Virginia Tech

The wide-bandgap (WBG) devices, like gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) devices have proven to be a driving force of the development of the power conversion technology. Thanks to their distinct advantages over silicon (Si) devices including the faster switching speed and lower switching losses, WBG-based power converter can adopt a higher switching frequency and pursue higher power density and higher efficiency.

As a trade-off of the advantages, there also exist the high-frequency-oriented challenges in the adoption of the GaN HEMT under research, including narrow safe gate operating area, increased switching overshoot, increased electromagnetic interference (EMI) in the gate loop and the power stages, the lack of the modules of packages for high current application, high gate oscillation under parallel operation. The dissertation is developed to addressed the all the challenges above to fully explore the potential of the GaN HEMTs.

Due to the increased EMI emission in the gate loop, a small isolated capacitor in the gate driver power supply is needed to build a high-impedance barrier in the loop to protect the gate driver from interference. A 2 W dual-output gate driver power supply with ultra-low isolation capacitor for 650 V GaN-based half bridge is presented, featuring a PCB-embedded transformer substrate, achieving 85% efficiency, 1.6 pF isolation capacitor with 72 W/in3 power density. The effectiveness of the EMI reduction using the proposed power supply is demonstrated.

The design consideration to build a compact 650 V GaN switching cell is presented then to address the challenges in the PCB layout and the thermal management. With the switching cell, a compact 1 kW 400 Vdc three-phase inverter is built and can operate with 500 kHz switching frequency. With the inverter, the high switching frequency effects on the inverter efficiency, volume, EMI emission and filter design are assessed to demonstrate the tradeoff of the adoption of high switching frequency in the motor drive application. In order to reduce the inverter CM EMI emission above 10 MHz, an active gate driver for 650 V GaN HEMT is proposed to control the dv/dt during turn-on and turn-off independently. With the control strategy, the penalty from the switching loss can be reduced.

To build a high current power converter, paralleling devices is a normal approach. The dissertation comes up with the switching cell design using paralleled two and four 650 V GaN HEMTs with minimized and symmetric gate and power loop. The commutation between the paralleled HEMTs is analyzed, based on which the effects from the passive components on the gate oscillation are quantified. With the switching cell using paralleled GaN HEMTs, a 10 kW LLC resonant converter with the integrated litz-wire transformer is designed, achieving 97.9 % efficiency and 131 W/in3 power density. The design consideration to build the novel litz-wire transformer operated at 400 kHz switching frequency is also presented.

In all, this work focuses on providing effective solutions or guidelines to adopt the 650 V GaN HEMT in the high frequency, high power density, high efficiency power conversion and demonstrates the advance of the GaN HEMTs in the hard-switched and soft-switched power converters.

Gallium-Nitride (GaN), gate driver, inverter, LLC resonant converter, magnetic integration, electromagnetic interference (EMI)