Stacking of IGBT devices for fast high-voltage high-current applications

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2007
Thesis identifier
  • T11954
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The development of solid-state switches for pulsed power applications has been of considerable interest since high-power semiconductor devices became available. However, the use of solid-state devices in the pulsed power environment has usually been restricted by device limitations in either their voltage/current ratings or their switching speed. The stacking of fast medium-voltage devices, such as IGBTs, to improve the voltage rating, makes solid-state switches a potential substitute for conventional switches such as hard glass tubes, thyratrons and spark gaps. Previous studies into stacking IGBTs have been concerned with specific devices, designed or modified particularly for a specific application. The present study is concerned with stacking fast and commercially available IGBTs and their application to the generation of pulsed electric field and the switching of a high intensity Xenon flashlamp. The aim of the first section of the present study was to investigate different solid-state switching devices with a stacking capability and this led to the choice of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT). It was found that the collector-emitter voltage decreases in two stages in most of the available IGBTs. Experiments and simulation showed that a reason for this behaviour could be fast variations in device parasitic parameters particularly gate-collector capacitance. Choosing the proper IGBT, as well as dealing with problems such as unbalanced voltage and current sharing, are important aspects of stacking and these were reported in this study. Dynamic and steady state voltage imbalances caused by gate driver delay was controlled using an array of synchronised pulses, isolated with magnetic and optical coupling. The design procedure for pulse transformers, optical modules, the drive circuits required to minimise possible jitter and time delays, and over-voltage protection of IGBT modules are also important aspects of stacking, and were reported in this study. The second purpose of this study was to investigate the switching performance of both magnetically coupled and optically coupled stacks, in pulse power applications such as Pulse Electric Field (PEF) inactivation of microorganisms and UV light inactivation of food-related pathogenic bacteria. The stack, consisting of 50 1.2 kV IGBTs with the voltage and current capabilities of 10 kV, 400 A, was incorporated into a coaxial cable Blumlein type pulse - generator and its performance was successfully tested with both magnetic and optical coupling. As a second application of the switch, a fully integrated solid-state Marx generator was designed and assembled to drive a UV flashlamp for the purpose of microbiological inactivation. The generator has an output voltage rating of 3 kV and a peak current rating of 2 kA, although the modular approach taken allows for a number of voltage and current ratings to be achieved. The performance of the switch was successfully tested over a period of more than 10⁶ pulses when it was applied to pulse a xenon flashlamp.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2007
Former identifier
  • 766828