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Two-switch topology boosts forward, flyback designs
Youhao Xi and Bob Bell, National Semiconductor 1/19/2008 7:49 AM EST
Adding a second switch to the high-side of a conventional single-switch forward or flyback converter design reduces electrical stresses on the MOSFETs, improves efficiency, and cuts EMI Adding a high-side MOSFET switch to the conventional forward and flyback power converter design brings many benefits, especially in higher input-voltage applications. With the resulting two-switch approach, the leakage energy is recycled back to the input to improve efficiency and there is no need for a snubber circuit. And you'll reduce electrical stresses, too, as the switch clamps the voltage on the MOSFET switch to the input voltage. The new solution adds a few more parts, but it's a small price to pay for what you'll get out of it. The performance and cost advantages of such a two-switch approach in a DC/DC regulator design become more remarkable in an integrated solution in which the control circuit, gate drivers, and two MOSFET switches are on the same chip. Overview Designers favor the forward and flyback converter topologies in isolated DC/DC power converters for their simplicity, flexibility to accommodate multiple isolated outputs, and the easy means by which users can optimize the duty cycle. The conventional forward and flyback converter employs a single MOSFET switch, which is primary-ground referenced for conveniently driving the gate. However, the drawback to this single-switch approach is that the voltage stress on the switch is the sum of the input voltage, the reflected transformer voltage, and the turnoff voltage spike caused by leakage inductance. We can clamp the voltage on each MOSFET to the value of the input voltage by adding a second MOSFET switch on the high side. With this two-switch topology, the leakage inductance energy is also clamped and recycled back to the input to improve efficiency. The dissipative snubber circuit that often required in the single-switch approach is no longer needed. MOSFET switches with a rated voltage slightly higher than the input voltage can be employed in the two-switch approach, while a rating of greater than twice the input voltage is required for the single-switch topology. Forward-converter circuitry The main components of the traditional single-switch forward converter topology (Fig. 1) are the input capacitor CIN, MOSFET Q1, power transformer with a tertiary reset winding, T1, reset clamp diode D3, secondary rectifier diodes D1 and D2, and the output filter consisting of Lo and Co. In practice, Q1 normally requires a dissipative snubber circuit to limit the peak drain-to-source voltage stress when it is turned off. (Click on Image to Enlarge)

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When the MOSFETs are turned off. 3a). is now placed between the high side of the transformer primary and the input return.eetimes. The secondary circuit is exactly the same as in the single-switch Fig. 3b). However.http://www. D4. When both MOSFETs are on. (Click on Image to Enlarge) Fig. MOSFET Q2 is in series between VIN and the high side of the transformer primary. thus reducing the transformer's cost. is placed between the input and the low side of the transformer primary. (Click on Image to Enlarge) Fig 3a: Current path when MOSFETs are turned on 2 of 5 2/23/2012 4:36 PM . and the added second clamp diode. 1: Conventional single-switch forward converter Figure 2 shows the two-switch forward converter topology. of which the original Q1 remains in series between the low side of the transformer and input return. as in the single-switch topology. power is delivered to the load through the transformer and the output filter (Fig. power flow in the primary circuit is cut off. both Q1 and Q2 are turned on and off simultaneously. The current flowing in the magnetizing inductance will cause the voltage on the primary winding to reverse until the dot end is caught at return by D3 and the non-dot end is caught at VIN by D4. 2: Two-switch forward converter topology In operation. Each MOSFET sees a maximum voltage at turn-off of VIN (Fig. the power transformer is simplified by eliminating the tertiary reset winding. D3. The primary circuit now employs two MOSFET switches. The original reset clamp diode.

the transformer core will always reset each cycle. At first glance. Gate-drive power losses are obviously higher with two switches. the series conduction loss of the high-side MOSFET appears to manifest as additional power 75-volt input application.eetimes. For a single-switch forward converter with a 36. The transformer's leakage inductance is difficult to control and can often vary even after the design goes into production. The two-switch forward converter. Higher 3 of 5 2/23/2012 4:36 PM . switching speed. the leakage inductance energy is also clamped and returned to the input line through diodes D3 and D4. This circuit reduces system losses and reduces system noise over the single-switch Fig 3b: Current path when MOSFETs are turned off Not only does this circuit clamp the energy from the transformer's magnetizing inductance but. That is. Energy stored in the leakage inductance during the on-time does not have to be dissipated in a resistive snubber or the transistors themselves. The voltage stress on the MOSFET switch will be twice the input voltage plus the spike caused by the leakage energy. and circuit layout. The die size (and hence the cost) of a MOSFET is proportional to both its on-resistance (RDSON) and the voltage rating. The maximum drain-to-source voltage across the MOSFETs is clamped to VIN. Resetting the transformer core in a single-switch forward converter is normally accomplished with a tertiary reset winding.http://www. Thus. a study of MOSFET process characteristics reveals that the two-switch topology can actually result in a reduction of conduction losses. the voltage on the reset winding will reverse until it is clamped by diode D3 to the input voltage. on the other hand. The peak voltage stress in a single-switch approach is proportional to the value of leakage inductance. If the duty cycle of the MOSFET switch is limited to less than 50 percent. While the two-switch approach requires two MOSFETs in series the total resistance of the two MOSFETs is comparable to a single-switch with twice the voltage capability. We cannot overstate this benefit. provided the leakage inductance spike is controlled. Consequently. more importantly. but with the lower RDSON and the elimination of leakage inductance loss the two-switch topology often results in a gain of conversion efficiency. there is no need for a snubber circuit and electromagnetic interference (EMI) is greatly reduced. When Q1 turns off. Generally the reset winding has the same number of turns as the primary winding. a 200-volt MOSFET is often required. the core will always reset with a reset time equal to the on-time of the transistor. since the ringing normally associated with the release of the inductive energy is now clamped. for a given die size. Control of the leakage-inductance effects. However. and eliminating snubber components are big benefits of the two-switch topology especially at higher input voltages. D3 and D4 are conducting and effectively apply the input voltage in reversed polarity to the power transformer's primary winding to reset the transformer core. resets the transformer in the same way without the additional reset winding.

Historically. Q1 also requires a dissipative snubber circuit to limit the peak voltage stress when the device is turned off. and the two high voltage MOSFETs are integrated in the same monolithic IC. provides a high performance. a fully integrated two-switch DC/DC regulator. (Click on Image to Enlarge) Fig 4: Block diagram. power transformer T1. Figure 4 shows a block diagram of the high-side gate-drive implementation employed in National's LM5015 two-switch regulator. The main components are the MOSFET switch Q1. input filter capacitor CIN. In contrast. Two-switch flyback operation Figure 5 shows a conventional single-switch flyback converter topology. (Click on Image to Enlarge) Fig 5: Conventional single-switch flyback converter 4 of 5 2/23/2012 4:36 PM . New monolithic integrated circuit (IC) regulators overcome the challenges of the high-side MOSFET gate-drive through the use of a bootstrap capacitor technique controlled by a high-speed level-shift circuit. and output filter capacitor input-voltage applications often have more primary turns. gate-drive for both high-side and low-side switches. but lower input-voltage applications can often benefit as well. driving the high-side MOSFET has been a challenge for the two-switch topology since the high side MOSFET requires a floating gate driver.http://www. Clamping circuitry limits voltage stress on the MOSFETs. the maximum input-voltage range for a single-switch forward converter is limited to less than half the rated voltage of the MOSFET. In practice. The LM5015. and the maximum input-voltage range of the power converter can approach the rated voltage of the MOSFETs.eetimes.25 to 75 volts. secondary rectifier diode Do. high-side gate drive circuit The advantages of the two-switch forward converter circuit clearly become more significant when the complete control circuit. The benefits of the two-switch approach increase with increasing input voltage. increasing the leakage inductance and loss. low cost DC/DC regulator solution capable of a very wide input voltage range from 4.

The two-switch flyback can be operated in either discontinuous or continuous conduction mode just like the single-switch flyback converter. the original MOSFET switch Q1 remains in series between the low side of the transformer and input return. then the energy is released to the secondary when the primary MOSFETs are turned off. In the primary circuit. The same technique can be used for the high-side MOSFET gate drive. An added transistor. The operation of the flyback transformer is best described as a two-winding coupled inductor. The power transformer and secondary circuit remain the same as in the single-switch approach. Figure 6 shows a two-switch flyback converter topology. The coupling between the primary and secondary windings is never perfect. The clamp diodes in the two-switch flyback design are used to recover the leakage energy back to the input line. and to clamp the turn-off peak voltage across each MOSFET at VIN. as in the two-switch forward converter. All of the same benefits are realized in the two-switch flyback as in the two-switch forward design. Q2 is in series between VIN and the high side of the transformer primary. this leakage inductance can destroy the primary MOSFET in a single-switch approach if left unchecked. and between VIN and the high side of the transformer primary. The voltage stresses on the MOSFET switches are clamped to VIN and the leakage inductance energy is returned to the input line instead of being dissipated in snubbers normally required in the single-switch approach.eetimes. (Click on Image to Enlarge) Fig 6: Two-switch flyback converter Both MOSFET switches are turned on and off simultaneously. respectively. Clamp diodes D1 and D2 are placed between the low side of the transformer primary and input return. Energy is supplied to the inductor in the primary circuit when the primary MOSFETs are active. 5 of 5 2/23/2012 4:36 PM .