Speed Does Not Kill Power Supplies

Power Supplies with Fast Switching Frequencies Just Got a Lot Safer


Introduction

Isolated power supply systems are prevalent in server systems, industrial applications, and telecommunication and networking equipment. In this bandwidth-hungry age of the Internet of Things (IoT), a growing number of these systems need to be efficiently powered, driving up the need for power-efficient, cost-effective solutions.As devices get smaller, power supplies have to follow suit. Thus, designers today have one overriding objective—to maximize power per volume (W/mm3). One way to achieve this is to use higher performance power switches. There have been significant innovations in this area and exciting new products are now available that have highspeed switching capability, offering increased system efficiency and a lower component size.These new power switches include the next generation of faster silicon-based MOSFETs as well as newer technologies like Gallium-Nitride (GaN) or Silicon-Carbide (SiC) substrates.The new technologies’ lateral structure, compared to vertical for silicon, makes them low-charge devices and therefore capable of switching hundreds of volts in nano-seconds (ns). This is ideal for fast switching systems.Other advantages include a higher electric field strength and electron mobility, which means the size of the switch is much smaller for a given breakdown voltage and on-resistance. Also, they have a wider band gap, which means they can operate safely at a higher current at higher frequencies.

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