Cryogenic characteristics of IGBTs
Applications are now starting to emerge for superconducting devices in the areas of electrical power conversion and management, for example superconducting windings for marine propulsion motors, superconducting fault current limiters and superconducting magnet energy storage (SMES). Many of these applications also require power electronics, and it is therefore timely to consider the possibility of locating the power electronics in the cryosystem with the superconducting devices. Although significant work has been undertaken on the cryogenic operation of small devices, little has been published on larger devices, particularly the IGBT. This therefore forms the focus of this study. To examine the cryogenic performance of the sample devices, a cryo-system consisting of a cold chamber, a helium-filled compressor and vacuum pumps was built. Static, gate charge and switching tests were carried out on three types of IGBT modules, PT (punch-through), NPT (non-punch-through) and IGBT3 respectively, in the temperature range of 50 to 300 K. The switching tests were undertaken at 600V and up to 110 A. A physically based, compact level-1 model was selected to model the cryogenic performance of the IGBTs. A generic Saber power diode model with reverse recovery was selected to model the diode cryogenic performance. Close correspondence was demonstrated between the models and experimental results over the temperature range of 50- 300 K. Saber simulation was used to examine the cryogenic performance of a DC-DC step-down converter and a pulse-width modulated inverter leg, in which the temperature-dependent power device models developed in the modelling work were used. The simulation results showed that standard power electronic circuits using standard devices could work much more efficiently at low temperatures, for example, the efficiency of the DC-DC converter working at 50 kHz being increased from 90.0% at room temperature to 97.0% at 50 K.