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Jumpstart Inverter Designs with SiC Power Modules and Gate-Driver Kit

Sept. 28, 2020
Microchip’s AgileSwitch digitally programmable gate driver and SP6LI SiC power-module kit enables developers to proceed quickly from benchtop to production.

Now that we’re deep into the push to electrify transportation, be it automobiles/EV chargers, buses, trains, or trolleys, there’s more of an imperative than ever to hasten development of highly efficient power-inverter systems. To that end, Microchip Technology’s AgileSwitch digital programmable gate driver and SP6LI SiC power module kit represents a unified means to quick and effective adoption of silicon-carbide (SiC) power devices.

The gate-driver/power-module kit is intended to reduce development time from evaluation through production and eliminates the need to separately procure power modules and gate drivers, including those gate drivers that meet the needs of end-product production. The focus is on power-conversion applications of 50 kW and higher, extending even into the megawatt range. Switch voltage ranges are from 700 V to 1.7 kV

Microchip’s flexible portfolio of 700-, 1200-, and 1700-V SiC Schottky barrier diode-based power modules incorporates its newest generation of SiC die. In addition, its dsPIC digital signal controllers deliver performance, low power consumption and flexible peripherals. Microchip’s AgileSwitch family of digital programmable gate drivers further accelerates the process of moving from the design stage to production.

Often overlooked in the discussion of SiC is the negative secondary effects its users can risk. While SiC devices provide fast switching, the result of that can be noise resulting from ringing, overshoot, and undershoot. SiC is also susceptible to short-circuit failures, overvoltage, and overheating.

In its AgileSwitch gate drivers, Microchip sidesteps these issues using what it terms Augmented Switching technology. Basically, the devices are turned on and off in a programmable series of steps that precisely control voltage levels and the periods for which they are held. Using a Windows-based computer interface, this switching programmability is applicable throughout the design process, from expediting early evaluation to simplifying final optimization using a computer mouse instead of a soldering iron.

The result is elimination of false faults, mitigation of ringing and electromagnetic interference (EMI), and less overshoot and undershoot than one sees in standard analog gate drivers. AgileSwitch gate drivers are also more robust and better protected against short circuits than their analog counterparts. And, because the programmability does away with gate resistors and other components used in analog control schemes, board design is simpler and BOMs are shorter.

Microchip’s AgileSwitch digitally programmable gate driver and SP6LI SiC power-module kit provide design engineers with a central point of contact for support, and ensures that the die, power package, and gate driver are designed specifically for each other, which can eliminate potential development delays.

The kit includes the AgileSwitch Intelligent Configuration Tool that optimizes gate turn-on and turn-off, short-circuit response, and module efficiency while reducing voltage overshoot, ringing, and EMI.

Microchip’s AgileSwitch digital programmable gate driver and SP6LI SiC power module kit solution is available for volume production and limited sampling. Pricing on Microchip’s ASDAK-MSCSM70AM025CT6LIAG-01 AgileSwitch digital programmable gate driver and 1200-V, 495-A, single-phase-leg SP6LI SiC power module kits starts at $999.95.