What is IGBT power module?

IGBT power modules are needed to convert electricity from one form to another so that the electricity can be more conveniently and safely used by all the digital devices that make up our modern lives. 

Power modules become hot due to the heat loss in the conversion process and in some cases the losses are as great as 5%. For instance, in an electric vehicle the losses may be as high as 10-15% which in turn impacts the range and performance of the vehicle. 

Learn more of what an IGBT power module is, what it does and how it works.

What is an IGBT power module?

An IGBT is a is power semiconductor die and is the short form of insulated-gate bipolar transistor.

An IGBT power module is the assembly and physical packaging of several IGBT power semiconductor dies in one package. The dies are normally connected in a selected electrical configuration such as half-bridge, 3-level, dual, chopper, booster, etc.

An IGBT power module functions as a switch and can be used to switch electrical power on and off extremely fast and with high energy efficiency.

The IGBT power module is becoming the preferred device for high power applications due to its ability to enhance switching, temperature, weight and cost performance.

How does IGBT power module work?

An IGBT power module functions as an electronic switching device.
By alternate switching direct current (DC) can be transformed to alternating current (AC) and vice versa.

The power conversion taking place is important for the applications to function correctly. In order to drive an electrical motor, 3 phase AC current is needed. On the other end, all electrical energy storage systems (batteries) need DC current.

What is an IGBT inverter?

An inverter enables power conversion from a source to a load.The inverter is primarily used for power conversion for two purposes:

  • Power-to-power: Electricity conversion for transmission, distribution or energy storage. An example is a solar inverter, inverting the direct current coming from the sunlight directly into alternating current to be fed into the power grid. 

 

  • Power-to-motion: Providing power to create motion for electric motors by converting electricity from one form to another, typically mechanical. An example is an electrical car driven by one or more electric motors. Here, the main inverter converts the DC current from the electric vehicle battery to AC current, driving the vehicle propulsion system. 

 

The inverter can consist of power semiconductors such as IGBTs, FETs, MOSFETs, SJ MOSFETs, SiC MOSFETs and GaN HEMTs to name a few. 

An IGBT-inverter is an inverter build with IGBT power modules to ensure high voltage/power switching functions. 

IGBT inverter as the heart of the electric drive train

The IGBT power module is considered the ‘heart’ of the electrified drive train.

Similar to a human heart distributing energy throughout our bodies, the power module functions as a human heart in the electric drive train for EV/HEVs.

In the electric drive train, the power module distributes and converts the DC current from the electric vehicle battery, to AC current to be used in the electric motor driving the vehicle propulsion system. That makes the power module a critical component in improving energy efficiency and battery range for electrical cars.

Did you know?

For over three decades, Danfoss have been helping top-tier system manufacturers meet stringent reliability, design and cost targets by developing customized IGBT and SiC power modules and power stacks for industrial, e-mobility and energy applications.