Power Semiconductors: The BJT, MOSFET, and IGBT (5)


Because power semiconductors have very wide-ranging applications, the most desirable type for a given application comes down to several factors: the amplification, the switching speed, and the power class. Trends in particular types can be seen in applications in industry, the consumer
market, and transportation.

A. Industrial Applications
Within industry, the two main uses for power semiconductors are for motor control and power supplies. For motor drives, power semiconductors can control all sizes of motors from those found in large mills to simple machine tools. The trend in the method of controlling of these motors has been toward IGBTs. Likewise, due to their versatility, the use of the IGBT has become the trend in constructing power supplies for such applications as battery charging, welding, and induction heating.

B. Consumer Applications
In the consumer market, power semiconductors can be found in audio amplifiers, heat controls, light dimmers, and again in motor controls. Because of the low cost and high amplification of MOSFETs, they have become the preference in audio amplifier construction. On the other hand, the IGBT is dominating in heat controls, dimmers, and motor drives.
An example consumer application of the IGBT can be seen in Figure 4. Here, and IGBT modules is used to control an induction coil that is used to heat a pan for cooking. In this particular case, the IGBT acts as a switch; when voltage is applied to the gate, the current will flow through the induction coil, otherwise no current will flow. Because the IGBT can handle high currents, there is little concern that the semiconductor will overheat and/or be destroyed with the high currents that are necessary for induction heating.

C. Transportation Applications
Within transportation, motor control with the IGBT is again most prevalent. IGBTs are utilized in drives for electric cars and trains. However, BJTs can be found in simpler applications such as electronic ignition and vehicle voltage regulation.
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