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Effects of Parasitic Elements wmin

High-Frequency Supplies
Parasitic elements are those electrical characteristics in the supply that
are not intended as the primary function of the components used within
the circuit but are nonetheless contributed by the physical construction
and layout of the components. Many of these parasitic elements within
the supply could be ignored in the PWM family of switching power
supplies when their frequency of operation is less than 50 kHz because
their overall effect on the power supply was minimal. At higher frequencies
of operation, these effects become much more significant in the role
they play in the efficiency of the power supply. Some are resistive in
nature, such as the ESR within the capacitors and the eddy-current and
hysteresis losses within the magnetic components. These dissipate real
(nonreactive) power, which contributes to the heat generated within the
supply. Some are capacitive in nature, that is, do not generate heat but
form an AC current path that bypasses the main power transformation
current path such as MOSFET gate capacitance and output capacitance.
Finally, there are those parasitic effects that are magnetically induced
that can couple into resistive losses such as skin effects in wires, and
those that degrade the performance of components within the circuit,
such as leakage inductance and interwinding capacitance. The effects of
all these parasitic elements are frequency-dependent and radically increase
as the frequency of operation increases. The losses contributed
by parasitic effects can, if not properly attended to, contribute as much
as 30 percent of the supplys total losses. Many can be reduced by the
proper selection of components; others can be harnessed and used inside
190 11 Resonant Converters-An Introduction
the power path, thus transforming a loss into usable energy. Within the
realm of resonant switching power supplies, the designer must possess
a practical appreciation of the parasitic effects to produce an efficient,
well-designed switching power supply.

1 1 -6.1 Transformer- and Inductor-Centered Parasitic Effects

The magnetic components such as transformers and inductors exhibit or
cause two forms of parasitically caused losses. These are core-centered
losses and air-coupled losses. The core-centered losses are those that
you may have been familiar with in PWM power supplies. The aircoupled
losses are often ignored in low-frequency PWM supply design.
The transformer can contribute or cause up to half of the parasitic losses
within the supply. So a good understanding of the transformers influence
on these losses should be pursued.
Core-Centered Parasitic Losses
These losses are contributed by the eddy-current losses and hysteresis
losses of the core. These losses are highly dependent on the core material
used within the transformer or inductor. Unfortunately, at present,
there is not one single core material that satisfies all the demands placed
on it for high-frequency power conversion purposes. First, it is desired
that the B-H characteristic be as narrow as possible to reduce the hysteresis
losses. Manganese-zinc materials possess such a narrow B-H

characteristic. But these materials have a low volume resistivity, which

promotes eddy-current losses at high frequency. Second, volume resis tivity
must be reasonably high to discourage eddy currents at high frequencies.
Nickel-zinc ferrites provide this, but thev have wider B-H
characteristics, which promotes hysteresis and residual losses. The following
expression describes the losses within the core:
(1 1.6)

where R, is the core loss resistance (in ohms), p the permeability, L

the inductance (in henries), u the hysteresis loss coefficient (published),
c the residual loss coefficient (pubished)), e the eddy-current loss coefficient
(published), B,, the maximum operating flux level (from application),
and f the frequency (in hertz). The first term within the corelosssummed equation is the hysteresis loss, the second is the residual
loss, and the third is the eddy-current loss. Their respective loss coefficients
are completely determined by the core material chosen for the
1 1.6 Effects of Parasitlc Elements within High-Frequency Supplies 191

application. So core material selection should play a prominent role in

the transformer design. Note that the hysteresis losses are proportional
to the maximum excursion of the flux during normal operation. This
forces the designer to design the transformer with a lower B,,, . Within
PWM supplies, the designer typically sets B,,,,, at one-half of the saturation
flux density (Bsa,). Within resonant supplies, though, B,,, is typically
set no higher than 10 to 15 percent of the saturation flux density.
This presents some difficulties to the designer because more turns would
have to be added to the transformer to reduce B,,,, and the core size
would have to be increased because of both the increased windings and
the less effective utilization of the core material. The last term in the
core loss equation is the eddy-current loss within the core. As one can
see, its value is proportional to the square of the frequency, so its significance
increases greatly with the operating frequency of the supply.
The resistivity of the core material affects the quantity of circulating
eddy currents within the core by adding series resistance to its circulating
current path. Hence, a material that possesses a higher volume resistivity
helps in discouraging eddy currents. Some of the ferrite core
materials on the market today that are targeted at high-frequency power
conversion are 3F3 from Ferroxcube, H7F from TDK, and K or R material
from Magnetics. In summary, the core selection and flux density
limits chosen play a major role in controlling the internal core losses.
Windingcentered Losses
A second major loss within the transformer is the skin effect within the
windings themselves. The skin effect is caused by the existence of high
currents at high frequencies. A large magnetic field is produced within
the wire that is normal to the surface of the wire. This, in effect,
pushes the current from the center of the wire to the wires surface.
This reduces the effective cross-sectional area of the wire that is available
for current-carrying purposes and hence increases the resistance of
the wire. The result is a greater winding loss than predicted by using a
DC model for the winding, and it is more pronounced within the higher
current windings. The expression for the skin effect is


6 = -0 .066 fl (11.7)
(See also Fig. 11.15.)
Several solutions can be used to reduce this effect. First is the use of
Litz wire. Litz wire is a woven bundle of small-diameter insulated
wires. This provides much more surface area, which promotes current


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1 1, Resonant Converters-An introduction

10 20 30 40 50 Resistance ratio (RAc /R,Kf)o r

OJr solid copper wire.

sharing between the wires. The sum of the individual cross-sectional

areas of the wires equals the cross-sectional area of the necessary
equivalent solid conductor wire. The benefit of Litz wire can disappear
if too many wires are contained within the bundle. The optimal number
is about 5. This is partly because the high current windings usually have
only a few turns, making it unlikely that all the wires within the larger
Litz wire bundle emerge to the surface of the bundle. Another method
is to use a flat foil conductor for the low-voltage, high-current windings
within the transformer. The thickness of the foil is no more than two
skin depths thick at the fundamental frequency of the current waveform.
This better ensures that all the wires cross-sectional area will be used
for current flow. Using one or both of these techniques in the design can
significantly reduce the winding loss due to the skin effect.
Another phenomenon that occurs within the windings is the existence
of parasitically induced eddy currents caused by areas of high magnetic
field strength. These areas of high magnetic field strength are typically
caused by any gap contained in the core. Some of the lines of flux at the
1 1.6 Effects of Parasitic Elements within High-Frequency Supplies 193

gap are bowed out away from the center of the gap in what is called the
frirtge effect. These lines of flux pass through the windings and induce
eddy currents to flow within them. This, of course, causes a resistivetype
loss within the windings, which results in still more heating of the
winding. This is where the trade-off in wire type and winding placement
comes into play. Eddy currents are more easily induced within conductors
that have larger cross-sectional dimensions. The foil windings have
a large surface area dimension, which gives them the greatest propensity

for the induction of eddy-current flow. Solid magnet wire has a fairly
large diameter dimension that also can permit the induction of eddy
currents within them. Litz wire offers the best resistance to the induction
of eddy currents because of the small diameter of each of these wires.
This is where three trade-offs should be considered: (1) dielectric isolation
between windings, (2) the degree of magnetic coupling needed by
each winding to the core and to the other windings to minimize leakage
inductance, and (3) which windings are better implemented using Litz
or foil wires. Ideally. a winding composed of Litz wire should be placed
adjacent to the core, followed by wires of ascending cross-sectional dimensions.
This goes contrary to the normal practice of interleaving
windings where half the primary is wound first, followed by the secondaries,
and then the remainder of the primary last. Dielectric isolation is
achieved by placing two layers of Mylar tape between the primary and
secondary windings. Unfortunately, the windings most needing the Litz
wire are the low-voltage, high-current secondaries. An additional layer
of Mylar tape is required to ensure the required dielectric isolation between
the primary and secondaries (see Fig. l l . 16). It also decreases
the magnetic coupling of the primary to the core, thus increasing its
leakage inductance. This can result in the introduction of spikes into the
primary's switching waveforms, thus requiring the addition of a clamp.
Alternatively, Litz wire could be used for the primary, but because of
its larger diameter and the fact that the primary usually requires the
largest number of turns, the core size may have to be increased as a
result. Obviously, not all the conditions can be satisfied, so some experimenting
with the winding arrangement may be necessary to minimize
the winding losses.