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Analytical Modeling and Development of GaN-Based Point of Load Buck Converter with Optimized Reverse Conduction Loss

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This work analyzes and develops a point-of-load (PoL) synchronous buck converter using enhancement-mode Gallium Nitride (e-GaN), with emphasis on optimizing reverse conduction loss by using a well-known technique of placing

This work analyzes and develops a point-of-load (PoL) synchronous buck converter using enhancement-mode Gallium Nitride (e-GaN), with emphasis on optimizing reverse conduction loss by using a well-known technique of placing an anti-parallel Schottky diode across the synchronous power device. This work develops an improved analytical switching model for the GaN-based converter with the Schottky diode using piecewise linear approximations.

To avoid a shoot-through between the power switches of the buck converter, a small dead-time is inserted between gate drive switching transitions. Despite optimum dead-time management for a power converter, optimum dead-times vary for different load conditions. These variations become considerably large for PoL applications, which demand high output current with low output voltages. At high switching frequencies, these variations translate into losses that contribute significantly to the total loss of the converter. To understand and quantify power loss in a hard-switching buck converter that uses a GaN power device in parallel with a Schottky diode, piecewise transitions are used to develop an analytical switching model that quantifies the contribution of reverse conduction loss of GaN during dead-time.

The effects of parasitic elements on the dynamics of the switching converter are investigated during one switching cycle of the converter. A designed prototype of a buck converter is correlated to the predicted model to determine the accuracy of the model. This comparison is presented using simulations and measurements at 400 kHz and 2 MHz converter switching speeds for load (1A) condition and fixed dead-time values. Furthermore, performance of the buck converter with and without the Schottky diode is also measured and compared to demonstrate and quantify the enhanced performance when using an anti-parallel diode. The developed power converter achieves peak efficiencies of 91.7% and 93.86% for 2 MHz and 400 KHz switching frequencies, respectively, and drives load currents up to 6A for a voltage conversion from 12V input to 3.3V output.

In addition, various industry Schottky diodes have been categorized based on their packaging and electrical characteristics and the developed analytical model provides analytical expressions relating the diode characteristics to power stage performance parameters. The performance of these diodes has been characterized for different buck converter voltage step-down ratios that are typically used in industry applications and different switching frequencies ranging from 400 KHz to 2 MHz.

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  • 2020