You are on page 1of 6

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 14, NO.

2, MARCH 1999

227

Gate-Assisted Reverse and Forward Recovery of High-Power GTO’s in Series Resonant DC-Link Inverters
Joachim Holtz, Fellow, IEEE, and Michael Stamm
Abstract—The series resonant dc-link inverter is an attractive circuit topology for interfacing a dc current with a three-phase ac system. It uses gate turn-off thyristors (GTO’s) as semiconductor switches. The conventional solution requires an additional series diode to perform the turn-off process and to enable forward recovery of the GTO. This paper uses a single GTO along with a special gate drive to provide reverse and forward recovery. A new device testing circuit was designed to create the same electrical and thermal stresses as in a series resonant dc-link inverter. Experimental results using 2000-A GTO’s at 26-kHz switching frequency demonstrate that the total device losses are reduced, while the hold-off time is slightly increased. The new single-device solution makes resonant switching attractive for very high-power applications. Index Terms— Gate turn-off thyristor, high-frequency switching, high-power switching converter, resonant power conversion.

I. INTRODUCTION ULSEWIDTH-modulated electronic power converters have gained prominence owing to the proliferation of fast-switching semiconductor devices such as power transistors and insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBT’s). The present tendency of expanding the application of this technology to higher power levels is impeded by device rating limits. Only the slow-switching gate turn-off thyristor (GTO) can handle the high voltages and currents in the power range beyond 1 MW. GTO’s are sensitive against a high rate of rise of the forward current at turn on and against high forward voltage gradients at turn off. Protective turn-on and turn-off snubbers must be provided to reduce the device stresses at switching. The device switching losses are nevertheless fairly high, and, hence, the switching frequency is restricted to prevent thermal overload. While IGBT inverters can be well operated up to 10-kHz switching frequency, the limit for high-power GTO inverters is as low as 200–300 Hz [1]. The resulting harmonic distortion of the ac-side currents is considerable. The harmonic problem becomes particularly severe when power conversion between a three-phase utility and the dc current of a superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) system is considered. The passive filter between the power converter and the line constitutes a prohibitive cost factor
Manuscript received July 29, 1996; revised July 13, 1998. Recommended by Associate Editor, L. Xu. The authors are with the Electrical Machines and Drives Laboratory, University of Wuppertal, D42097 Wuppertal, Germany. Publisher Item Identifier S 0885-8993(99)01823-2.

P

at the characteristic switching frequency of GTO’s. Resonant commutation has been proposed as a means to increase the switching frequency and, in consequence, the filter kilovoltampere rating. The parallel resonant dc-link converter topology [2] provides a resonant tank to control the gradient of the device voltage in the off state, and of the device current in the on state. Hence, the gate turn-off capability of the GTO is not utilized. The GTO is operated as a thyristor instead [3]. Following the conduction period, it needs to regain its blocking capability both in the reverse and forward direction within a few microseconds. To achieve this, Tenconi et al. [4] have added an antiparallel and a series diode to the device to provide a path for the forward recovery current. The additional devices increase the losses of the switch topology and the cost of the power converter. Their isolated heat sinks complicate the mechanical construction. Further investigations of Mertens et al. [5] have indeed demonstrated that a safe forward recovery cannot be guaranteed without the use of auxiliary diodes. In general, the results published so far are confined to experiments at a lower power level where the IGBT is the better competitor. This paper proposes a single-switch topology which ensures safe reverse and forward recovery through an improved gate drive arrangement. The approach reduces the series resonant converter to the most simple arrangement of just six GTO’s. Experiments are reported using 2000-A devices.

II. SWITCH TOPOLOGIES Although having an internal cell structure, the GTO is basically a slow-switching device. The respective transitions between the state of conduction and the blocking state require certain time durations. The transitions are characterized by lateral processes within the device during which the area of conduction in each cell is gradually increased at turn on, or decreased at turn off. To reduce the transition losses, the rate of current rise at turn on and the rate of voltage rise at turn off must be limited. Using the principle of series resonant commutation, the device forward current is not quenched at turn off by the device itself—it is the resonating tank which forces the current to zero. The recombination of stored charges requires a holdoff time to be observed before the forward voltage can be reapplied. The hold-off time reduces the switching frequency.

0885–8993/99$10.00 © 1999 IEEE

228

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 14, NO. 2, MARCH 1999

Fig. 1. Power switch consisting of a GTO and two auxiliary diodes.

(a)

(b)

Fig. 3. (a) Basic GTO structure. (b) Conventional gate drive circuit.

(a)

(b)

(c) Fig. 2. Turn-off behavior of the GTO in the resonant circuit: (a) anode current, (b) anode–cathode voltage, and (c) gate current.

The central junction J2 has not yet reached its blocking capability when the forward voltage is about to return. This gives rise to a forward recovery current which starts flowing The gate–cathode junction continues reverse biased at and a negative gate current builds up in , extracting carriers from the gate–cathode junction. This avoids the device getting retriggered by the forward recovery current. The GTO finally regains its blocking capability at If the forward voltage returns too early, the gate current is still positive when the forward recovery current starts flowing. This is a dangerous situation which may lead to anomalous retriggering in the absence of a series diode [5]. has a smaller reverse recovery charge The series diode than the GTO. Hence, both the peak reverse recovery current and the reverse recovery time of the switch arrangement assists the forward get reduced. The antiparallel diode recovery process of the GTO. While the reverse voltage across , a negative gate current flows the switch is blocked by , reverse biasing the central junction J2. The GTO through can start its forward recovery process, which is terminated, across the power or almost terminated, when the voltage switch becomes positive. B. Single-Device Switch

A. Power Switch with Auxiliary Diodes The undersired hold-off time is reduced by providing a diode in series with the GTO as shown in Fig. 1 [4]. The diode turns off faster and subsequently takes the reverse voltage. Hence, unsymmetrical GTO’s can be used for this switch topology. These devices are more readily available owing to the higher demand for voltage source inverters. The turn-off process is analyzed with reference to the waveforms in Fig. 2. An opportunity for the device to turn off exists whenever the resonant circuit forces the anode in Fig. 2. current to zero. Zero crossing occurs at Thereafter, a negative voltage, less than the reverse breakdown voltage of the gate–cathode junction J3 [Fig. 3(a)], is applied by the gate drive circuit. The junction J3 recovers fast and subsequently assumes the reverse blocking state. The anode current starts commutating from the cathode to the gate circuit. of The commutation is delayed by the internal inductance the gate drive circuit [Fig. 3(b)]. The anode current returns to zero at when the anode junction J1 has recovered; a positive until gate current is maintained by the inductor

Although the series diode protects the switch against undesired retriggering, the power switch with auxiliary diodes is not a cost-effective solution. The disadvantage becomes particularly prominent in high-power applications. At a higher voltage rating, fast-recovery diodes also have a relatively high reverse recovery charge, and the reverse recovery time of the power switch is not as much reduced as in mediumintroduces additional power applications. The series diode and need to forward conduction losses. Both diodes be mounted on isolated heat sinks which adds considerably to the complexity of the mechanical construction. Our investigations have aimed at eliminating the additional diodes around the power switch, providing safe blocking capability by appropriate gate control. Conventional gate drive circuits operate at limited gate current gradient. Fig. 3(b) is provided in the gate drive loop shows that an inductor for this purpose. The requirements are different when the GTO is operated as a single device switch. The gate current assists the switch in regaining its blocking capability first in the reverse direction

HOLTZ AND STAMM: GATE-ASSISTED REVERSE AND FORWARD RECOVERY OF GTO’S

229

Fig. 5. Test circuit. DUT: device under test.

Fig. 4. The new gate drive circuit. Hatched area: low-inductance loop.

and subsequently in the forward direction. It is essential in both cases that the gate current can rapidly change. It must fully absorb the reverse recovery anode current without delay. Thereafter, it must rapidly return to zero when the reverse recovery current has decayed, so as not to reestablish conduction when the forward voltage returns. It must then turn negative to extract those carriers that are accelerated within junction J2 during forward recovery. Fast control of the gate current is enabled by making the loop inductance of the gate circuit as small as possible [6]. A parallel-plate transmission line, represented by the hatched area in Fig. 4, was constructed for this purpose. It links the gate drive unit mechanically with the device. Even the original lead wires to the device package were removed. and are To turn the GTO off, the two switches is closed and is opened. A simultaneously commutated: and transfers to the snubber across residual current in The anode recovery current is diverted into the gate circuit The switch must be designed and passes through the switch accordingly. It is maintained closed during the off state such that the negative voltage gets applied to the gate. is closed first and To turn the device on, the switch is charged from with being still the inductor closed. About 1 s are required to let the inductor current is then opened and the inductor rise to 40 A. The switch current commutates swiftly into the gate. The low inductance of the gate loop ensures a very high-gate–current gradient, and the high-current amplitude immediately saturates the gate region [8]. and switch provide a constant gate current Resistor during the on state to prevent the GTO from unlatching.

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e) Fig. 6. Device stress in the test circuit.

III. DEVICE TESTING CIRCUIT A new device testing circuit was designed and used for experimental investigation. The test circuit shown in Fig. 5 is simpler than previous test circuits [5]. It uses only a single source voltage and requires no auxiliary switches. The test circuit subjects the GTO to the same electrical and thermal stresses as the resonant converter. A resonant tank is provided and the inductor in Fig. 5 which consists of the capacitor The inductor and the diode replace the load. Typical waveforms are shown in Fig. 6. The capacitor is first charged through the resistor The GTO from the voltage source and a resonating anode current builds up in turns on at

the loop The current reaches its maximum at when the capacitor voltage crosses through zero. The diode then comes into conduction and a current starts rising in This current rings between and It the inductor of during the counteracts the original charging current The inductor current determines the time interval of the GTO during the characteristic voltage waveform reverse and forward recovery interval The amplitude and the duration of the current pulse can be and The inductance adjusted by varying the values of is also adjustable. It determines the initial value and of The the gradient of the returning GTO voltage at component values used for testing 2000-A GTO’s are: F, H, and H. Operation in the double-pulse mode is best suited for an investigation of the device switching behavior. The losses incurred in a sequence of two pulses are restituted from the during a subsequent charging interval. source through

230

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 14, NO. 2, MARCH 1999

DATA

OF THE

TABLE I GTO’s USED

FOR

TESTING

Fig. 8. Special probe for on-state voltage measurement.

Fig. 7. Double-pulse operation and single-GTO power switch: (a) anode current ia , (b) forward voltage vac , and (c) forward voltage vac at enlarged scale (special probe used for measurement).

All semiconductor devices of the test circuit are mounted on thermostatically controlled heat sinks. The temperature is maintained at 80 C as the nominal working temperature. IV. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS Investigations were made using two different types of reverse blocking GTO’s: Westcode WG 10036 FR and Siemens BGTS 2000 A18. The respective data are listed in Table I. As both devices exhibit almost the same behavior, only the oscillograms obtained with the Siemens 2000-A device are shown. The gate current waveforms could not be oscillographed, as the low-inductance gate drive circuit does not accommodate a current probe. A. Dynamic Turn-On Losses of the GTO Fig. 7 shows the current and voltage waveforms of a GTO at double-pulse operation. Two current pulses are generated in a close sequence, followed by a longer time interval during gets charged. The second current pulse which the capacitor is lower in amplitude than the first one, since the energy of the capacitor gets reduced by the losses. The oscillogram shows that the turn-on behavior depends strongly on the state of the device prior to turn on: the

first pulse is generated after the charging interval. The anode–cathode voltage breaks down to about 40 V after firing. The rising anode current counteracts a further reduction of the on-state voltage. The internal device resistance is relatively high, since the conduction channels have just been formed within the semiconductor area; plasma spreading is in progress and continues throughout the conduction interval. The spreading process is not yet completed toward the end of the current pulse; the device does not really establish steady-state conduction. A better observation of the dynamic on-state voltage is enabled by employing a special voltage probe for measurement. The probe contains a fast voltage-limiting circuit (Fig. 8), which prevents saturation of the input amplifier by the much higher off-state blocking voltage of the GTO. The arrangement permits an accurate dynamic measurement of the low-on-state voltage, from which the on-state losses can be computed. in Fig. 7(c) is seen to be influenced The waveform of by the rising anode current. The dynamic losses at turn on total to 140-mWs. Note that only the positive device voltage is displayed in Fig. 7(c); the negative portion is cut off by the limiting circuit. The turn-on process is different during the second current pulse. The central junction J2 has not yet completely recovered from the first current pulse, and residual carriers assist in reestablishing the current flow. The on-state voltage reduces now very fast to about 4 V, increasing only little while the anode current rises to its full magnitude. The following oscillograms exemplify the typical performance of power switches in two different configurations, without and with auxiliary diodes, and at repetitive conduction during a coherent sequence of current pulses. The representative waveform is that of the second current pulse in the device testing circuit Fig. 4, having a peak amplitude of 1.5 kA. B. Single-GTO Power Switch with Modified Gate Drive The dynamic performance of a power switch formed by a single GTO is characterized by the waveforms in Fig. 9. The modified gate drive circuit Fig. 4 is used for reducing the switching losses. The rate of fall of the on-state current at the end of the conduction interval is 150 A/ s, as determined by in Fig. 4 is closed when the the resonant tank. The switch anode current reverses. The anode current commutates almost immediately into the low-inductance gate drive circuit, and the reverse-biased gate–cathode junction of the GTO breaks down. Its saturation voltage can be observed in the oscillogram as it during this time interval. forms the dominating portion of

HOLTZ AND STAMM: GATE-ASSISTED REVERSE AND FORWARD RECOVERY OF GTO’S

231

Fig. 9. Single-GTO power switch: (a) anode–cathode voltage vac and (b) anode current ia : TABLE II DIODES USED

Fig. 10. Power switch with auxiliary diodes: (a) GTO voltage vac , (b) diode voltage vd , and (c) anode current ia :

DATA

OF THE

FOR

TESTING

Reverse recovery of the anode junction J1 is completed within 4 s, being indicated by the rising edge of the negative peak The gate current remains at full negative level, ready of to assist the pending transition into the forward blocking state. Forward recovery starts when the positive voltage returns, which is about 1 s after successful reverse recovery. The negative gate current assists the forward recovery by partially extracting stored charges from the depletion layer of J2. Its waveform is not directly accessible for measurement owing to the mechanical layout that ensures the extreme low inductance of the gate drive circuit. The gate current waveform can be indirectly observed as it is nearly identical, although reversed in Fig. 9. in sign, to the positive reverse recovery current The hold-off time is 4 s. C. Power Switch with Auxiliary Diodes The conventional switch arrangement that uses a fast series diode for the reverse recovery process was analyzed for comparison. The composite power switch comprises two auxiliary diodes and the GTO. The arrangement is shown in Fig. 1. Fast-recovery diodes were used: Siemens SSi N66 110 as the series diode and SSi K44 83 as the antiparallel diode. Their data are listed in Table II. Fig. 10 shows the waveforms of the respective voltages across the GTO and the series diode. As expected, the major portion of the reverse voltage is taken by the diode [Fig. 10(b)]. The reverse recovery process terminates 2.5 s

Fig. 11. Power switch with auxiliary diodes: (a) GTO voltage vac (only positive polarity shown), (b) diode voltage vd (only positive polarity shown), and (c) anode current ia :

after current reversal. The event produces a sharp positive voltage pulse across the GTO [Fig. 11(a)]. Forward recovery of the GTO starts immediately thereafter. A high negative gate current has built up during the preceding reverse recovery interval. This current accelerates the process of forward recovery, which is nearly completed when returns. Hence, forward recovery current is smaller than in the single-switch arrangement. The advantage of lower turn-off losses is offset by the static and dynamic losses of the auxiliary diodes. The respective forward voltages across the two devices can be observed in Fig. 11. Particularly the on-state voltage waveform of diode shows that the dynamic diode losses at turn on are not negligible, notwithstanding the moderate current gradient. D. Comparison of Power Switches The waveforms demonstrate that the GTO never reaches the condition of steady-state conduction, and also the series diode operates mainly in the transient state. The conclusion is drawn that the conventional categories of conduction losses and switching losses have little meaning at pulsed high-frequency operation at high-power level.

232

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 14, NO. 2, MARCH 1999

TABLE III MEASURED POWER LOSS

[3] C. J. Hammerstein and F. A. Woodworth, “The GTO as a fast thyristor,” in EPE European Conf. Power Electronics and Applications, 1987, pp. 81–85. [4] S. M. Tenconi, M. Zambelli, L. Malesani, and P. Tenti, “The reverse blocking GTO as a very fast turn-off thyristor,” IEEE Trans. Ind. Applicat., vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 840–847, 1990. [5] A. Mertens, H.-C. Skudelny, T. T. Caldeira, and T. Lipo, “Characterization of GTO’s under different modes of zero current switching,” IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 9, pp. 338–345, May 1994. [6] J. Holtz and M. Stamm, “The performance of high-power GTO’s as zero turn-off time thyristors,” in 20th Annu. Conf. IEEE Ind. Electron. Soc., Bologna, Italy, 1994, pp. 1265–1270. [7] H. O. Stielau, J. J. Schoeman, and J. D. van Wyk, “A high-performance gate/base drive using a current source,” IEEE Trans. Ind. Applicat., vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 933–939, 1993.

Instead, a classification in dynamic on-state losses and turnoff losses appears a better indicator of device performance. The loss energy per pulse is computed from the oscillographed waveforms. The respective data are given in Table III. Although the GTO losses are lower in the switch arrangement with auxiliary diodes, the total losses are lower with the singledevice GTO switch. The losses of the antiparallel diode are negligible. The hold-off time is 2.5 s in the switch arrangement with auxiliary diodes and 4 s with the single-device GTO switch. V. SUMMARY The novel technique of gate-assisted reverse and forward recovery enables the efficient operation of a single high-power GTO as a fast turn-off thyristor. The conventional arrangement of auxiliary diodes in series and antiparallel connection is rendered obsolete. The total device losses are reduced; the hold-off time is increased by 1.5 s. A test circuit is described which reproduces the electrical and the thermal device stresses in a series resonant dc-link converter. The dynamic performance of different 2000-A power switches is evaluated at operating conditions corresponding to a 26-kHz converter switching frequency. The investigation demonstrates that the high-power devices never reach steadystate conduction at intermittently pulsed high-frequency operation. The conventional categories of conduction losses and switching losses are therefore replaced by a new classification in dynamic on-state losses and turn-off losses. REFERENCES
[1] P. Appun et al., “The electrical design of the power conversion equipment of the 120 series locomotive of the German railways” (in German), Elektrische Bahnen, vol. 80, nos. 10–11, pp. 290–294 and 314–317, 1982. [2] K. W. Marschke, P. Caldeira, and T. A. Lipo, “Utilization of the series resonant dc link converter as a conditioning system for SMES,” in IEEE Power Electronics Specialists Conf., San Antonio, TX, 1990, pp. 266–272.

Joachim Holtz (M’87–SM’88–F’93) received the Ph.D. degree in 1969 from the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany. In 1969, he became Associate Professor and in 1971 Full Professor and Head of the Control Engineering Laboratory, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. He joined the Siemens Research Laboratories, Erlangen, Germany, in 1972. Since 1976, he has been Professor and Head of the Electrical Machines and Drives Laboratory, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany. He is the author of more than 100 technical papers. He is the coauthor of four books and has been granted 27 patents. Dr. Holtz is a recipient of the IES Dr. Eugene Mittelmann Achievement Award, the IAS Outstanding Achievement Award, and the PELS William E. Newell Award. He received five IEEE Prize Paper Awards. He is a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Industry Applications Society and a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society. He is an Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS and member of the Administration Committee, IEEE Industrial Electronics Society, IEEE IAS Static Power Converter Committee, and the German professional organizations VDE and GMA.

Michael Stamm received the Dipl.-Ing. degree from the University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany, in 1993. He has been with the Electrical Machines and Drives Laboratory, University of Wuppertal, as a Research Assistant. His activities are related to inverter circuits for power supplies and GTO converters for superconducting magnetic energy storage.