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Ideal and

Practical
Switches

Ideal and Practical Switches
To assess the performance of a switch, we look at two aspects of its
behaviour :
(i)
static, and
(ii)
dynamic
If the switch is either in its ON or OFF state, we call this a static
condition.
The dynamic condition is the transition from one static state to the
other.

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Ideal static characteristics :
On-state :

1. Able to carry any value of forward current
2. Has zero voltage drop
3. Has zero on-state resistance
4. Has zero power dissipation

Off-state:

1. Able to withstand infinite open-circuit voltage
2. Has zero leakage current
3. Has infinite off-state resistance

Ideal Dynamic Characteristics:
1. Zero turn-on time
2. Zero turn-off time
3. Infinite dv/dt rating
4. Infinite di/dt rating
Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Static performance of practical switches

Power semiconductor switches depart to some extent from the
ideal – there is a small but finite voltage drop in the ON state and a
small but finite “leakage current” in the OFF state.

The leakage current that flows in the OFF state causes the power
dissipation in the device.

Usually the power dissipation due to this leakage current is small in
comparison with the power dissipation in the ON state therefore the
power dissipation due to OFF state leakage can be neglected.

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Dynamic performance of practical switches
A real switch needs a finite time ton for ON switching and toff for OFF
switching.
These finite switching times have two major consequences:
i. They limit the highest repetitive switching frequencies possible.
ii. They introduce additional power dissipation in the switched
themselves.

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Switching characteristics of practical devices
Practical switching devices have non-zero :
i
i. rise time
Power
ii. fall time
v
Switch
iii. delay time
v
iv. storage time
Voltage and current reference directions
control

td : delay time
ts: storage time
tf: fall time
tr: rise time
ton: turn-on time
toff: turn-off time
ton = td + tr
toff = ts + tf

t
v

Turn‐on

Turn‐off

t
i

t
tr

ts

td

tf
ton

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

toff
tc

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Switching characteristics of
practical devices (continued):
• During the transition there
is power dissipation taking
place inside the switch.

v

Turn-off

t
i

• Instantaneous power
dissipated is given by the
product of terminal voltage
v and terminal current i.

t
tr

ts

td

tf
ton

Power
Loss

i
v

Turn-on

toff
tc
Turn-on
loss
Conduction
loss

Power
Switch

Voltage and current reference directions

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

Turn-off
loss

t

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Power Loss Model of a Generic Switch
Input power, Pin

Power
lost, Ploss

Useful output
power, Pout

Gate power
input, Pgate

Energy conservation principle requires that
Pout = Pin + Pgate - Ploss
In general, the gate power input is very much smaller that that of the supply
power, Pin . So, we can write
Pout = Pin - Ploss
Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Switching Losses
Four types of power losses occur in a practical switch:
1. Turn-on loss
2. Conduction loss
3. Turn-off loss
4. Gate driver power input
The instantaneous power loss in a practical switch is given by the expression
p(t) = v(t).i(t)
The average power loss during a time T is

1
P
T

T

 p( )d
0

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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i
Power
Switch

v

Three types of power losses in a
practical switch:

Voltage and current reference directions

i. Average turn-on loss:
v

Turn-on

Turn-off

tr

1
Pon 
tr

 p( )d
0

t

ii. Average turn-off loss is
i

Poff 

t off

1
t off

 p( )d

t

0

tr
td

iii. Average conduction loss is

Pcond 

1
t cond

tcond

 p( )d

ts
tf

ton
Power
Loss

0

toff
tc
Turn-on
loss
Conduction
loss

Turn-off
loss

t

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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The total energy W (in joules) dissipated in the switch in one switching
cycle is given by the sum of the areas under the power waveform during ton
and toff. Hence, the average power dissipation is

Pdiss 

W
Ts

1

Ts

t off
ttcond

tr
 p( )d   p( )d   p ( )d 

 0
0
0

where Ts is the switching period. The switching frequency is

fs 

1
Ts

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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It is important to consider losses in power switches:
i.

to ensure that the system operates reliably under prescribed ambient
conditions

ii. so that heat removal mechanism (e.g. heat sink, radiators, coolant) can be
specified. Heat sinks and other heat removal systems are costly and bulky.
iii. losses in switches affects the system efficiency
If a power switch is not cooled to its specified junction temperature, the full
power capability of the switch cannot be realised. Derating of the power switch
ratings may be necessary.

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Example
Consider a power switching device whose current and voltage
waveforms are as shown in Figure 1. Determine
(a) the turn-on energy loss
(b) the turn-off energy loss
(c) the average power dissipation.
Assume a switching frequency of 40 kHz.
250 V

100 A

1 μs

3 μs

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Practical switch specifications
Important parameters of practical devices to consider when using
them as a switch:
1. Voltage ratings: forward and reverse repetitive peak
voltages, and ON-state forward voltage drop.
2. Current ratings: average, rms, repetitive peaks, nonrepetitive peak, OFF-state leakage current.
3. Switching frequency/switching speed: Device heating
increases with the switching speed.
4. di/dt rating: The power switching device needs a minimum
amount of time before its whole conducting surface comes
into play in carrying the full current. If the current rises
rapidly, the current flowing may be concentrated to a
certain area and the device may be damaged.
Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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Practical switch specifications (continued)
5. dv/dt rating: A semiconductor device has an internal
junction capacitance, Cj. If the voltage across the switch
changes rapidly during turn-on, turn-off, and while
connecting the main supply, the current Cjdv/dt flowing
through Cj may be too high, thereby causing damage to the
device.
6. Safe operating area: sets the maximum current, voltage,
and power loss that can be handled safely by the device.
7. Temperature: maximum allowable junction temperature.

Dr.ZAH, UTHM

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