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by J.M. Bourgeois

Power MOSFET and IGBT gate drives often Isolated power switches are often used in
face isolation and high voltage constraints. motor drives, uninterruptible power supplies
The gate drive described in this paper uses and AC switches. Isolation is usually a
a Printed Circuit Board based transformer requirement of safety norms and operating
in combination with the memory effect of conditions when the switch voltage floats
the Power MOSFET input capacitance to with respect to ground.
achieve the isolation. This paper highlights a specific characteristic
This transformer is a bi-directional link of the Power MOSFET which is often
between the ground-referenced control IC neglected: the use of the gate input
and the floating gate drive. It transfers drive capacitance as an ON state memory. It
energy and signal information to the gate proposes an innovative isolated gate drive
drive, provides full duty cycle range and using a pulse transformer constructed using
perfect dV/dt immunity, and imposes virtually copper PCB tracks, combined with the
no voltage constraint. No floating auxiliary memory effect of the Power MOSFET.
supply is required.
If the short circuit protection is triggered, an 2. PRINCIPLES OF OPERATION
alarm signal is transmitted back to the
primary through the same transformer. This The circuit operates using the Power
circuit is perfectly suited to driving floating MOSFET input capacitance to memorize
and/or isolated switches in motor drives, the ON-state, a second auxiliary capacitor
uninterruptible power supplies and AC to memorize the OFF-state, and PCB tracks
switches. to form the windings of the transformer.

AN461/0194 1/7

The transformer is driven by pulses in bi- 3. IMPLEMENTATION

directional mode; when a voltage pulse is The circuit shown in figure 1 implements
applied across the primary, energy is these principles. The Power MOSFET or
transmitted to the secondary and the state IGBT input capacitance memorizes its ON-
of the Power MOSFET is defined (ON or state. The capacitor C7 memorizes the OFF-
OFF). After the primary pulse, in the steady state and maintains a low impedance
state, an alarm signal can be transmitted between the gate and source terminals
from the secondary to the primary if a short during the OFF-state via T7. Short circuit
circuit is detected.

Figure 1:Circuit implementing isolated gate drive

protection with masking of the free wheeling refresh of the memory capacitances.
diode recovery current is implemented with The circuit shown in figure 5 is a simplified
T6, T8 and T9. If the circuit is to be operated version of that shown in figure 1.
under 1kHz, provision must be made for


4. FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTION 4.1 Primary circuit

Figure 2 shows a block diagram of the circuit. The TD300 is a three channel MOSFET
It consists of a TD300 pulse transformer driver with puls e transformer driving
driver, a PCB based transformer and an capability. It has been optimized for both
isolated secondary circuit. capacitive load drive and pulse transformer

Figure 2: Circuit block diagram

It can therefore directly drive a low side 4.2 Pulse transformer

switch and, through a pulse transformer, an
The pulse width required to fully charge the
high side switch. Its low buffer RDS(ON) can
gate capacitance is typically around 1sec.
conduct a demagnetizing current of 100mA
Supposing that double pulses can occur
with no significant voltage drop. The
during t he operation, the maximum
transformer inductance can therefore be kept
Volt.second product is 30V/sec. With a
low, and the transformer windings can be
magnetizing current of 100mA, the primary
implemented with few turns laid on a Printed
transformer inductance required is:
Circuit Board.
L = V . (di/dt)-1 = 300H
The TD300 integrates three additional
circuits enabling protection and control This low value of inductance allows the
functions: an undervoltage lockout, an primary winding to be limited to 10 turns
operational amplifier and a comparator. using a realistic section of ferrite.


Figure 3 shows an implementation using Experiment al tests showed that the

PCB tracks to form the inductor. Track widths magnetizing current reaches 100mA after
are 12 mils at the primary and 10 mils at the 2sec using a standard A4-U-1606A made
secondary. The inter-line distance is 4 mils of high permeability material (i = 6000 -
in both cases (mask definition). standard THOMSON Passive Components).

Figure 3: PCB layout: a) Upper side

b) Lower side

a) b)

However the magnetic path of this U core is pulse transformer primary. When the primary
too long for through-hole applications. Using pulse ends, the transformer secondary
a bus bar core shape with the same section voltage is approximately zero, and the diode
but with shorter legs to fit the PCB, the D prevents Cin from being discharged.
magnetizing current should fall to 60mA. It In figure 4b, the MOSFET keeps its gate
is then possible to increase the pulse time charge after the pulse and remains in the
or to decrease the core section to obtain a conducting state. The ON-s tate is
magnetizing current of 100mA. memorized in the input capacitor Cin .
4.3 Secondary circuit Turn-OFF pulse: Figure 4c shows the input
Many different secondary circuit topologies capacitor discharge current Id when a
can be used, depending on application negative pulse is applied across the pulse
performance and cost. The cheapest solution transformer primary. Discharge occurs when
uses one zener diode and one resistor, but an additional circuit transfers the secondary
the digital control is more complex, and it voltage to the auxiliary capacitor Caux, making
has no floating short circuit protection (see Taux conduct. When the pulse ends, the OFF-
reference 6). state is memorized in the auxiliary capacitor.
A low impedance is then maintained across
For more sophisticated applications, figure
the power switch, avoiding unwanted turn-
4 shows a step by step analysis of the
on (see figure 4d).
secondary circuit shown in figure 1.
Turn-ON pulse: figure 4a shows the charge Short circuit protection: A short circuit
can be detected by means of a shunt or
current Ic of the MOSFET input capacitor
when a positive pulse is applied across the current sense. Then, the diode D is shorted,


Figure 4: Details of circuit operation

a) b)

c) d)

e) f)

allowing the power input capacitor to Diode recovery current: Generally, inverter
discharge through the pulse transformer just power switches face a diode recovery current
after the turn-on pulse. This produces a at turn on. This creates a brief over-current
negative current pulse in the transformer in the switch that requires masking from the
secondary, enabling the short circuit to be short circuit detection during the recovery
detected via the primary winding. Indeed, time.
this discharge c urrent inverts the
Due to the Miller effect, the current Ic lasts
demagnetizing current temporarily, inverting
for as long as the collector/drain voltage
the buffer output voltage (see current Id,
falls. Inhibiting the short circuit detection by
figure 4e). The short circuit conduction time
means of Ic masks all the diode recovery
is approximately the turn-on pulse time.
current (see figure 4f).



5.1 No floating auxiliary supply 5.4 Low energy and cheap transformer
The power MOSFET switches are supplied The energy transferred to the secondary by
by pulses from the transformer. No floating the pulse transformer is (on average per
auxiliary supply is required. cycle) about four times the energy stored in
the gate capacitor (average current of about
5.2 Large operating frequency range
2mA at 10kHz for 50nF). The transformer
This driver can operate at up to several tens magnetizing energy must be added two
of kiloHertz because the transformer delivers times per cycle (average current of about
very short pulses, typically 500nsec or 1sec. 2mA at 10kHz for 300H), so global driver
If DC or very low frequency operation is energy consumption is very small.
required, circuits to perform an automatic
The construction of the transformer can be
refresh of memory capacitors must be
automated using PCB based windings.
implemented; the primary circuit should then
drive the transformer with a burst of positive 5.5 Good ground to gate drive isolation
or negative pulses. (see reference 6). and perfect dV/dt immunity
5.3 Large duty cycle Because the pulse transformer provides the
isolation, creepage distance and clearance
Again because of the lengt h of t he
are easily adjusted to suit the application
transformer pulses, the possible range of
duty cycles is large: the minimum ON or
OFF time is about 500nsec, allowing the The primary-secondary electrostatic coupling
duty cycle to range from 1% to 99% at effects are negligible, and immunity to fast
20kHz. There is no maximum ON or OFF voltage variations (dV/dt) is perfect.

Figure 5: Simplified circuit


5.6 Low gate drive output impedance automation of the transformer construction
during OFF-state process.
During its OFF-state, a low impedance is Its major fields of application are motor
maintained across the gate-source terminals drives, uninterruptible Power supplies and
of the Power MOSFET, avoiding unwanted AC switches.
turn-on should any external dV/dt be applied REFERENCES
to the MOSFET. 1. Power Semiconductors for High
5.7 Short circuit protection Frequency AC/DC Converters supplied
on 380/440Vac Mains
The secondary circuit has an automatic L.Perier, J.M.Charreton
short-circuit protection. This protection is SGS-THOMSON Microelectronics
inhibited during turn-on pulses in order to Application note AN368
mask diode recovery current.
2. Optimized Power Stages for High
5.8 Alarm signal Frequency 380/440VAC Medium Power
When the s hort-circuit protection is Switch Mode Supplies
operating, the Power MOSFET input CK.Patni, L. Perier
capacitor is discharged through the pulse SGS-THOMSON Microelectronics
transformer, causing an alarm signal to be Application note AN369
transmitted in the reverse direction from the
secondary to the primary of the pulse 3. Improved Transistorized High Power
transformer. Chopper
K. Rischmuller - PCI 83 GENEVA
6. CONCLUSION 4. Simplified Switch Mode Base Drive Circuit
This Power MOSFET drive is perfectly suited with L4974 Smart Power I.C.
to drive floating and/or isolated switches. Its K. Rischmuller
operating mode permits a large range of SGS-THOMSON Microelectronics
duty cycles, requiring no floating auxiliary Application note AN364
supply, and has perfect dV/dt immunity. The
short circuit protection provides an alarm 5. Power Transistor Application Manual
signal to the grounded circuit control via the SGS-THOMSON Microelectronics
pulse transformer.
This circuit operates whatever the line 6. Pulse Controlled Inverter
voltage as long as suitably rated power J.M. Bourgeois
switches are used. Its transformer windings SGS-THOMSON Microelectronics
are laid on a double-sided PCB, allowing Application note AN522

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