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Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT)


Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT)

The insulated-gate bipolar transistor or IGBT is a three-terminal power semiconductor device, noted for high efficiency and fast switching. It switches electric power in many modern appliances, namely electric cars, variable speed refrigerators, air-conditioners, and even stereo systems with digital amplifiers. Since it is designed to rapidly turn on and off, amplifiers that use it often synthesize complex waveforms with pulse width modulation and low-pass filters.

The IGBT combines the simple gate-drive characteristics of the MOSFETs (MOS field effect transistor) with the high-current and low–saturation-voltage capability of bipolar transistors by combining an isolated-gate FET for the control input, and a bipolar power transistor as a switch, in a single device. The IGBT is used in medium- to high-power applications such as switched-mode power supply, traction motor control and induction heating. Large IGBT modules typically consist of many devices in parallel and can have very high current handling capabilities in the order of hundreds of amps with blocking voltages of 6,000 V.

High-power semiconductor devices used for electric power conversion and other applications in industrial machinery and robots, air conditioner compressors, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, motor drives of automobiles and hybrid electric vehicles, welders and UPS (uninterruptible power suppliers), medical equipment, and the like, are supplied mainly as power modules. From the commercialization of IGBT products in 1988 through the present, due to their excellent performance and controllability, IGBTs have evolved to become the type of transistors used most commonly in power modules.

At its IGBT module lineup, Fuji Electric first began supplying a standard module series, but then with the 2nd generation of modules, added an IPM (intelligent power module) and PIM (power integrated module) series and, with the 3rd generation dramatically increased the number of types of models, and then with the 4th generation, added a small-size low-cost EconoPACK (trade mark of Eupec GmbH. Warstein) series.

With the 5th generation (U-series released in 2002), Fuji Electric added a 1,700 V series of modules, expanded the large-current series to 3,600 A, started to provide custom designed IGBT modules for hybrid vehicles, and advanced the commercialization of reverse-blocking IGBT modules for matrix converter use. However, with the 6th generation of devices, IGBT performance improvements will approach their limit, and a radically innovative device structure will be needed to realize the 7th generation devices (expected to be released in 2009 or 2010).

We are committed to continuing to expand the voltage and current range of high-power IGBT modules, to achieve even smaller size and lower cost in low-power IGBT modules, and to actively support new applications.

   

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