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Kunrong Wang, Fred C. Lee, Guichao Hua, and D u m Borojevic
Virginia Power Electronics Center
The Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Tel.: (703) 231-4536 Fax: (703) 231-6390

Abstract A high power IGBT tester, based on the et al. [8], [9] studied the IGBT turn-off losses in hard-
typical clamped inductive load circuit and incorporating switching and with capacitive snubbers, and comprehensive
zero-voltage-transition and zero-current-transition soft- experimental results were given for different devices
switching schemes, has been developed. Both turn-on operated with various values of capacitive snubbers, which
losses, including the losses associated with reverse are mostly very large and only appear in resonant
recovery of the clamp (free-wheeling) diode, and turn-off converters. The influences of the gate driving resistance and
losses are measured and compared for slow and fast operating temperature were also addressed. In [IO], the
IGBT devices. Benefits of zero-voltage-switching(ZVS) IGBT behavior as applied to ZCS quasi-resonant converter
and zero-current-switching (ZCS) operation of IGBTs was studied.
are demonstrated. The ZVS operation can reduce the The objective of this paper is to provide a
total switching losses by more than half, while the ZCS comprehensive comparison of the switching losses and
reduces them by about 25% when compared with hard- switching behavior of IGBTs under hard-switching, and
switching. The ZCS turn-off also relieves the voltage typical zero-current and zero-voltage soft-switching
stress of the IGBTs. conditions as applied to soft-switching PWM
converters/iiverters, and to quantify the benefits which can
I. INTRODUCTION be derived in these circuit environments. The ZCT and
ZVT schemes are selected for implementation in a versatile
Since its fledging years, the evolution of power high power IGBT soft-switching tester because the voltage
electronics has been conditioned by the advances in device and current ratings appearing on the switches in these
technology. Although a spectrum of power devices has been schemes are just the same as in hard-switching PWM
available, their performances are still far from an ideal circuits, so fair comparison of switching losses can be easily
switch. IGBTs with relatively low conduction loss and high made. The test results for relatively slow and fast IGBT
frequency capability are increasingly the preferred choice devices are presented and analyzed.
for high power and/or high frequency applications. But the
switching losses in IGBTs remain obsessing the circuit 11. SOFT-SWITCHING TESTER AND
An array of zero-voltage-switching (ZVS) and zero-
current-switching (ZCS) converter topologies have been For the comparative study, a high power IGBT soft-
developed to tackle the switching losses in power devices. switching tester has been developed. As shown in Fig. l(a),
Noticeable among them are the classical parallel/series the test circuit with clamped inductive load is chosen as the
resonant converters, quasi-/multi-resonant converters [11, basic circuit configuration because the operating conditions
resonant voltage/curreint dc-link converters [2], and more of the IGBT and the associated clamp (free-wheeling) diode
recently, the resonant pole converters [ 3 ] , and the zero- are identical to those in a single-ended buck or boost
voltage-transition (ZVT) and zero-current-transition (ZCT) converter, three-phase PWM buck inverterboost rectifier,
soft-switching PWM converters [4], [5] which unify the and other bridge type of converters. The recently proposed
merits of resonant converters and conventional PWM ZCT and ZVT schemes [4],[51 are incorporated into the
converters, while avoiding their respective drawbacks. basic hard-switching circuit to achieve both ZCS and ZVS
Previously, Kurnia et al. [6], [7] analyzed the for PWM operations. As a result, the tester is very versatile.
various loss mechanisms in IGBTs, such as the di/dt The same main circuit can be easily rendered to work in
dependent loss due to (conductivity modulation lag, and the hard-switching, ZCS or ZVS operation just by simple re-
tail currcnt bump loss in circuits with capacitive snubbers, constructions of the soft-switching commutation branch.
etc., and extracted the corresponding loss models. Petterteig
0-7803-1859-5/94/$4.001994 IEEE

In this section, the main switching losses in typical During the turn-off process (f345), the current
hard-switching, ZCS and ZVS PWM operations will be flowing in the DUT is cut off and forced to charge the
reviewed together with the explanations of the soft- parasitic and/or snubber capacitor in parallel with the DUT,
switching mechanisms of the tester. and then the clamp diode turns on. Both the diode forward
recovery and the parasitic inductance in the loop formed by
A. Hard-switching Test Circuit C1, DI and S cause a high voltage spike on the IGBT. So,
The circuit diagram and operating waveforms are its turn-off stress is very high, and may cause violation of
shown in Fig. 1. The switch (S)with the anti-parallel diode the reverse bias safe operating area (RBSOA). After the
(Ds)is the IGBT device under test (DUT). The clamp diode initial transfer of the switch current to the clamp diode (t3-
( D I ) can be externally connected diode or the upper anti- rq), the remaining tail current decays slowly. Its decay is
parallel diode in the half-bridge IGBT module package. The determined predominantly by the recombination of excess
circuit can run at either continuous or discontinuous current minority carriers, and, unlike with GTOs, gate driver plays
mode (CCM or DCM) to meet different test requirements. only a minor role [ 113. The only way for improvement is to
use faster IGBTs with reduced minority lifetime. Even for
very fast IGBTs available today, the tail still lasts for several
micro-seconds, and is the main source of the turn-off loss.
Therefore, in high power and/or high frequency

applications, hard-switching of IGBTs presents severe
switching loss and thermal reliability problems. It is
particularly attractive to employ soft-switching techniques
to minimize these losses.

(a) Test circuit diagram B . ZCS Test Circuit

S I ZCS techniques are usually employed to alleviate
turn-off losses of devices that possess slow turn-off
mechanisms such as BJTs, GTOs and IGBTs. Figure 2(a)
shows the circuit diagram of the ZCS test circuit derived
from the ZCT scheme [ 5 ] . The part shown in thin lines is
the resonant commutation branch (SA, D2, D3, L, and C,)
added to the hard-switching test circuit shown in bold lines
to achieve ZCS turn-off for the DUT.
Figure 2(b) shows the ZCS operating waveforms.
The auxiliary branch is kept quiescent during most of the
operating cycle, and is only activated prior to the turn-off of
the DUT. After the auxiliary switch (SA) is turned on at to,
ID1 the current flowing through the DUT is diverted to the
commutation branch in a resonant fashion due to the voltage
on the resonant capacitor (C,) which was precharged during
la 11 n 0 t4 15 turn-on of the DUT. With appropriate timing control and
(b) Switching waveforms design of characteristic impedance of the commutation
Fig. 1. Hard-switching test circuit. branch, a hold-off, or dead time can always be obtained after
the switch current reaches zero and the anti-parallel diode
During the tum-on process of IGBT (from to to t2 (Ds) starts conducting. During the hold-off time, the DUT
in Fig. I(b)), there is a large overlap between the switch can be turned off at zero current. At 11, the current in the
current (I,) and voltage (Vce). It results in the high turn-on anti-parallel diode decays to zero, and the switch voltage
loss of the IGBT. Several turn-on loss mechanisms can be starts to rise. So, the overlap between the switch current and
identified: first, the loss associated with the establishment of voltage, is almost eliminated. After t i , the auxiliary switch
the conductivity modulation; second, the loss caused by the can be turned off, and the current remaining in the
reverse-recovery of the clamp diode. It is apparent that the commutation branch is transferred to the clamp diode.
diode reverse recovery prolongs the current rise time The turn-on process (t3-t4) is essentially the same
because much higher carrier modulation level has to be as in the hard-switching test circuit except that a resonant
established. This inevitably results in a substantial increase current, lasting from t3 to t5, and caused hy the polarity
of the turn-on loss.

change of the resonant capacitor (C,)is superimposed on the ZCS case, an extra resonant branch ( S I , Dl,L,. and C,) is
switch current. introduced. It is only activated prior to the turn-on of the
, DUT to create zero-voltage condition. This is gradually
done by steering the current away from the free-wheeling
diode (D]), so that the switching losses associated with the
diode reverse recovery are practically eliminated. The
operating principle is illustrated in Fig. 3(b). The auxiliary
switch (SA) is turned on at to. From to to '1, the resonant
inductor takes over the current from the clamping diode, and
the ensuing resonance between L, and C, brings the voltage
across the switch to zero. After 12, the anti-parallel diode
(a) Test circuit diagram
(0s) free-wheels the surplus current beyond the main choke
current, and the DUT can be turned on under zero-voltage.
From (3 to (4, the current in the resonant inductor is
S 1 , I
transferred back to the switch linearly.



L (a) Test circuit diagram

to tl 12

(b) Switching waveforms

Fig. 2. ZCS test circuit. Is

To conclude, the ZCS turn-off condition is created
by the external circuit so that the minority carrier level in
the IGBT is reduced during the soft reduction of the IGBT
collector current, and a part of the remaining carriers can be
recombined during the hold-off time. As a result, the tail
current and the corresponding turn-off loss is significantly
reduced. It should be noted that the ZCS operation in the
tester is basically ZCT-derived and does not affect the tum- I I 1

on loss. m ti a a t4 (5s
(b) Switchingwaveforms
C. ZVS Test Circuit
Fig. 3. ZVS test circuit.
The ZVS techniques, including the ZVT scheme,
were fmt introduced to solve the capacitive turn-on problem During turn-off, due to the additional resonant
of power devices and the reverse recovery problem of the capacitor (Cr), the DUT voltage can not increase as quickly
slow or snappy diodes [4]. It is deemed most desirable for as in the case of hard-switching. This can help to reduce the
high-frequency power conversion with power MOSFETs turn-off loss of IGBT. But after the sudden removal of the
where the source of the switching loss is mainly the gate drive signal and the subsequent current fall, the ensuing
capacitive tum-on loss. current bump remains and is even larger than the tail current
Figure 3(a) shows the circuit diagram of the ZVS in the hard-switching case. So the capacitor has only
test circuit derived from the ZVT scheme [4]. Similar to the limited effectiveness in reducing the turn-off loss. Adding

larger capacitor is certainly helpful to further slow down the 8. Test Conditions and Instrumentation
voltage rise and reduce the turn-off loss, however, this may
not be practical from the circuit point of view since it For turn-off loss tests, the tester is operated in DCM
introduces higher circulating energy and additional at a switching frequency of 50 Hz, and a conduction
conduction loss in the commutation branch. duration of 20-80 p to reach the desired current level. For
In summary, the ZVS operation eliminates the turn-on loss tests, the excitation frequency is increased to
IGBT turn-on loss and solves the intricate diode reverse 800 Hz to make the tester run in CCM, and the conduction
recovery problem. Moreover, it can also reduce the turn-off duration is less than 40 ps. In both cases, the heat-sink
loss to some extent. which holds the DUT and other circuit components is placed
on a hot plate. The case temperature is heated to 5OoC and
111. TEST SET-UP monitored during the whole test process.
The instrumentation used for switching loss
A. Tester Implementation measurement is extremely critical. Different sensing
schemes have been tried. High current probes, such as
The high power IGBT tester corresponding to the Tektronix CT4 or P6303, are found inadequate because of
circuit diagrams shown in Figs. l(a)-3(a) has been built, and their big physical dimensions and significant time delays.
used in this study. It features compact layout and Finally, the scheme similar to that in [8], [9] is used. The
convenient re-connection capability to achieve either hard- switch current is sensed through the 10:1 current transformer
switching, ZVS, or ZCS operation. with shorted secondary, and then measured with a Tektronix
The input voltage (Vi) can be as high as 900 V. A6302 current probe, which can be calibrated and deskewed
The inductive load is composed of a 0.43 mH choke to get satisfactory accuracy when used with the Tektronix
inductor with a laminated core in series with the damping 11401 digital oscilloscope and the llA16 current amplifier.
resistances (R) whose value can be changed from 0 to .3 1 !2, The switching losses are obtained by direct integration of
as appropriate. The clamp diode (D1)was implemented the product of the current and voltage waveforms on the
with four Philips BYT230PIV1000 diodes connected in oscilloscope.
parallel. Each diode is rated at 1000 V/60 A and has
manufacturer-specified reverse recovery of 55 ns. The use IV. TEST RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION
of external clamp diode provided the same reverse recovery
Several 1200 V/50 A IGBT modules from different
condition for all IGBTs that were tested. Altematively, the
vendors have been tested under hard-switching, ZCS and
anti-parallel diode inside a DUT package can also be used.
zvs conditions with the above set-up. All the devices are
The gate drivers wed are TSC4421/4422 with the gate tested at 35OV input voltage, and different current levels.
resistance set to zero to get the fastest turn-on of the DUT.
Results obtained from two representative devices are
The resonant elements (Lr and C,) can be changed easily.
reported below. One is International Rectifier
As a consequence, high power IGBTs to l2O0 v/250 A IRGKI0050M12, a relatively slow device (note that the
can be tested. Actually, other MOS-gated devices, such as
u l t r f i a s tseries
~ devices from the Same manufacturer are
and be tested without any much faster), and the other one is Powerex CM50DY-24H,
which is among the fastest IGBTs available today. The

I ~ Hard-switching (HS) I zcs I zvs I

Ice On Off Total On Off Total % On Off Total %
(A) (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) ofHS (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) ofHS
25 2.62 3.01 5.63 2.62 1.18 3.80 67 .13 2.67 2.80 50

40 4.69 5.00 9.69 4.69 1.87 6.56 68 .27 4.55 4.82 50

45 5.64 5.54 11.18 5.64 2.05 7.69 69 .32 5.17 5.49 49

50 6.39 6.23 12.62 6.39 2.18 8.57 68 .40 5.74 6.14 49

60 8.42 7.57 15.99 8.42 2.76 11.18 70 .59 7.04 7.63 48

Hard-switching (HS) zcs zvs
Ice On Off Total On Off Total % On Off Total %
(A) (mJ> (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) ofHS (mJ) (mJ) (mJ) ofHS
25 1.80 1.23 3.03 1.80 .60 2.40 79 .21 1.02 1.23 41
40 3.05 2.20 5.25 3.05 .96 4.01 76 .38 1.85 2.23 42
45 3.47 2.42 5.89 3.47 1.07 4.54 77 .45 2.13 2.58 44
50 4.04 2.77 6.81 4.04 1.22 5.26 77 .50 2.37 2.87 42
60 4.97 3.36 8.33 4.97 1.34 6.31 76 .64 2.95 3.59 43

detailed test results of switching losses are summarized in

Tables I and 11, and also plotted in Figs. 4 and 5 . In Figs. 6
A. Turn-on Losses
and 7 are shown the switching waveforms under the As discussed in Section 11, the IGBT turn-on loss is
specified test conditions. mainly caused by the conductivity modulation lag which

. _ _ . _ - _ _ _ - _ _ . _ _ _ _ . _
40 60 70 0
Ice (A) 50 30 70
la, (A) 50 60

(a) Turn-on loss (a) Turn-on loss

Energy (mJ1 Energy (d)
3.5 I

3 - -

25 --
2 - -

1s --
- -
05 --
60 70 0,b 30 so 70
Ice (A) 4o la, (A) 50

(b) 'Turn-off loss (b) Turn-off loss

_. (mJl
Enemv . , Energy (d)
18 I

30 60 70 0 1 I
40 Ice (A) 50 30
la, (A)
SO 70

(c) Total switching loss (c) Total swilching loss

Fig. 4. Switching losses vs. switch current for slow IGBT Fig. 5. Switching losses vs. switch current for fast IGBT
(IRGKI0050M12). (CM50DY-24H).
Vce = 350 V, Tc = 50 OC, driver TSC4421/2 with Rg = 0. Vce = 350 V, Tc = 50 OC, driver TSC4421/2 with Rg = 0.


(a) Hard-switching tum-on @) Hard-switchingtumotf

(c) Tum-on in ZCS circuit (d) ZCS turn-off

(e) ZVS tum-on (f) Softer turn-off in ZVS circuit

Fig. 6. Switching waveforms for slow IGBT (IRGKI0050M12).

ZCS: Cr= .235 pF, Lr = 2.13 pH;ZVS: Cr = 5.4 nF, Lr = 4.3 pH.

produces an inductor-like behavior [7], and the reverse Nonetheless, faster device results in lower total tum-on
recovery of the clamp diode. In order to make a fair losses. For example, the turn-on loss of the slow device is
comparison, the same external clamp diode is used for tests about 1.6 times that of the fast device.
of different IGBTs. Comparison of the hard turn-on With ZVS turn-on, the switch current rises after the
waveforms in Figs. 6(a) and 7(a) shows that the turn-on switch voltage is reduced to zero, and its rate of increase is
speed of the IGBT proper (fast device versus slow device) much slower. As a result, --on loss is almost eliminated.
strongly influences the tum-on loss and the peak diode There exists only a low dynamic saturation voltage drop on
reverse recovery current. The faster the IGBT, the lower the the device while the current ramps up. The resulting loss is
turn-on loss but the higher the peak reverse recovery current. considered here as turn-on loss because that the voltage drop

(a) Hadswitching turn-on (b) Hard-switching turn-off

(c) Turn-on in ZCS circuit (d) ZCS turn-off

(e) ZVS turn-on (9 Softer turn-off in ZVS circuit

Fig. 7 . IGBT switching waveforms for fast IGBT (CM50DY-24H).

ZCS: Cr = .235 pF,Lr = 2.13 pH; ZVS: Cr = 5.4 nF, Lr = 4.3 pH.

is due to the conductivity modulation and not due to the energy circulation, and the turn-on loss remains almost the
parasitic inductance. This assumption needs further same, since the stored energy is always recovered before
investigation. Also, the diode reverse recovery current turn-on of the switch. On the other hand, the value of the
becomes only very small, and is no longer determined by the resonant inductance directly determines the rise rate of the
intrinsic property of the ZGBTs, as is clear in Figs. 6(e) and switch current, and therefore affects the turn-on loss.
7(e). The value of the resonant capacitor only affects the

The turn-on loss in ZCS operation is just the same current applications, the resonant capacitor value can be
as in the case of hard-switching if the loss associated with higher to soften the turn-off.
the resonant current (which reverses the polarity of the
C. Comparison of Total Switching Losses
resonant capacitor) is attributed to the increase in switch
conduction loss. Experimentally, it is also not easy to As listed in Tables I and 11, the total switching loss
differentiate between them. incurred in a complete switching cycle for the fast device is
* The turn-on loss of the tested IGBTs increases about 52% of that for the slow device. Worth of notice is
approximately linearly with the current level, while the peak that the turn-on loss (including the diode reverse recovery
reverse recovery current of the diode does not increase too loss) is higher than the turn-off loss for both devices. This
much. itself suggests the effectiveness of ZVS operation in the
reduction of IGBT switching losses. For the tested devices,
B. Turn-off Losses
50% to 60% reduction is constantly observed. ZVS
The tum-off loss of IGBTs consists of mainly two operation also relieves the turn-on current stress since diode
parts: loss caused by the overlap between the rising voltage reverse recovery is eliminated. Dually, ZCS operation
and the falling current in the initial phase, and the minimizes the turn-off voltage stress. It also helps to reduce
dissipation in the following current tail. Experiments reveal the total IGBT switching losses by approximately 25% for
that the latter contributes at least half of the total tum-off the DUTs.
loss for both the slow and fast devices under hard switching. Note that the comparison of switching losses made
The turn-off loss of the fast device is less than half that of above is based on the assumption that the switch currents at
the slow device, mainly due to the reduction of the tail the instants of turn-on and turn-off are of the same value. In
current magnitude. Even so, the tail current of the fast actual applications, the switch current at turn-on is usually
device still persists for several micro-seconds, much longer lower than that at turn-off. As a result, the effectiveness of
than the fall time specified by the manufacturer. In ZCS operation in reducing the total switching losses
addition, the fast IGBT has higher voltage overshoot. incurred in the circuit will increases. In the extreme case, if
With ZCS operation, the overlap between the the converter is operated in DCM where diode reverse
switch voltage and current is eliminated, but part of the tail recovery is no longer a concern, ZCS operation is most
current still exists because the remaining carriers need effective.
relatively long time to recombine completely. For the slow
D. Other Factors Afecting Switching Losses
and fast devices, the turn-off losses are reduced by about
two-thirds and twofold respectively when compared with Other important factors which have apparent
hard turn-off case. Besides, the energy stored in the influence on IGBT switching losses are the gate drive and
parasitic inductances of the device is pre-discharged and the device temperature. The higher the gate drive
recovered to the resonant capacitor. Therefore, the IGBT resistance, the slower the switch turn-on speed, and the less
does not have turn-off voltage spike, as can be seen in Figs. severe the reverse recovery current, but the higher the tum-
6(d) and 7(d). on loss. Its influence on the turn-off loss is much less. So
For ZVS operation, the turn-off is also softened with a larger gate drive resistor, the comparison will favor
with the use of an external resonant capacitor across the ZVS operation more. High device temperature aggravates
switch. The initial fall of the switch current is faster and the both the current tail loss at turn-off and the diode reverse
voltage ramps up at a slower rate. Consequently, the tum- recovery loss at tum-on. The resultant effects on different
off loss is also reduced. Loss reduction by a factor of two to soft-switching schemes need to be addressed in an additional
three is achievable with resonant capacitor as high as 100 to endeavor.
450 nF [6]-[9]. This can be useful in low frequency
resonant converters. For typical soft-switched PWM V. CONCLUSIONS
applications, however, in order to limit the circulating
energy and conduction loss, the resonant capacitance has to A comparative study of the switching behavior and
be much smaller. For the tests here, a 5.4 nF mica capacitor losses of IGBTs under hard-switching, ZVS and ZCS
is used as the resonant capacitor, and the resulting decrease conditions is presented. To facilitate the comparison, a high
in turn-off loss is about 8% for the slow device and 13% for power IGBT soft-switching tester, based on the typical
the fast device. The improvement is more pronounced clamped inductive load circuit and incorporating ZVT and
under lower switch current; a reasonable phenomenon ZCT schemes, has been developed. Tum-on and tum-off
considering the fact that with the same capacitor, the losses of two typical IGBTs are measured and compared,
increase of the voltage across the switch takes more time and it is found that the turn-on loss of IGBTs, including
than in the case of high current. This suggests that for high losses associated with the reverse recovery current of the
free-wheeling (clamp) diode, is usually higher than the turn-

off loss at the same current level, even for the case where zero-current switching converters," IEEE Trans.

fast reverse recovery diodes are used. The experimental Power Electronics, Vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 2-7, Jan. 1989.
results show clearly that benefits can be derived from both
ZCS and Z V S operation. Since ZVS operation essentially U11 Chokhawala, R., I. Catt and B. Pelly, "Gate Drive
Considerations for IGBT Modules," IEEE IASAM
eliminates tum-on loss and also helps to reduce turn-off loss,
Con& Rec., 1992,pp. 1186-1195.
it can reduce the total IGBT switching losses by more than
half compared with hard-switching, and is deemed most
effective in the reduction of IGBT switching losses. With
the ZCS operation, the turn-off loss reduction by a factor of
two to three can be easily achieved. Moreover, ZCS turn-
off also relieves the RBSOA stress of the IGBTs.

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