(SJT): Two-Level Gate Drive Concept

Application Note AN-10B:
Driving SiC Junction Transistors (SJT):
Two-Level Gate Drive Concept
Two-Level SJT Gate Drive Circuit
GeneSiC Semiconductor is commercializing
1200 V and 1700 V SiC Junction Transistors
(SJTs) with current ratings ranging from 3 A to 50
A. SiC SJTs are normally-off, high-performance
SiC switches, which are plug-in replacements for
Si IGBTs [1-2].
A circuit schematic for the two output voltage
level gate drive circuit is shown in Figure 1. It
features two commercial gate driver ICs with
isolated input signals to protect the gate control
signal generator [3]. The gate driver resistor (RGP)
and capacitor (CGP) provide improved switching
performance, similar to the single-level driver. CGP
provides a high transient current peak to the SJT
gate terminal at turn-on and turn-off, which
charges the base capacitance faster than a constant
gate current. CGP is placed in series with resistor
RCg to damp oscillations in this branch. Resistor
RGP regulates the steady state gate current after the
completion of the transient current peak, dictated
by CGP, to maintain the SJT in the on-state. A Si
Schottky diode is placed in series with RGP to limit
This document is part of a series of application
notes which describe optimal gate drive techniques
for SiC SJTs. AN-10A describes a simplified gate
drive technique, featuring a single commercial
IGBT gate driver IC, showing fast switching with
low losses. In this document, a more advanced,
two voltage level gate drive scheme is described.
This technique maintains optimal device switching
performance while decreasing the gate drive
100 nF
100 nF
470 µF
Gate Driver
470 µF
100 nF
100 nF
Gate Control
+5V / 0V
Gate Driver
Si Schottky
Figure 1: Two-Level SJT Gate Drive Circuit
AN-10A June 2013
Figure 2: Drain current and voltage waveforms of
a 1200 V / 6 A SiC SJT turning on to an inductive
load, using a two-level gate driver with suggested
parameter values.
Figure 3: Drain current and voltage waveforms of
a 1200 V / 6 A SiC SJT during turn-off, using a
two-level gate driver with suggested parameter
the transient current from CGP from being drained
through the lower-branch of the driver instead of
into the SJT gate during the turn-on transient. The
selection of these component values is addressed in
AN-10A and later in this document.
In the two-level driver, the two gate drive ICs
are powered at different voltages, VGH and VHL,
allowing for a reduction in driver losses. CGP is
driven by the high voltage output VOH in the upperbranch to charge CGP with a high voltage for high
AN-10A June 2013
Figure 4: Gate current waveform showing initial
transient and steady state time periods while
driving a 1200 V / 6 A SJT.
transient gate currents resulting in rapid charging
of the SJT’s terminal capacitances. RGP is driven
by the lower output voltage VOL, which allows for
a reduced RGP value compared to the singe voltage
level driver. Thus the steady state part of the gate
drive losses – the largest component of drive loss,
is lowered significantly. A representative gate
current waveform output from the two-level driver
is shown in Figure 4. An initial peak gate current,
IG,SW is followed by a steady-state IG,SS around
500 mA.
The low voltage supply, VEE can also be pulled
to a negative value for improved switching
performance with the inclusion of a coupling
capacitor CEE to separate VEE from the grounded
SJT source. CEE ≈ 10 uF has shown to be an
effective value for VEE = -5 V.
The two-level driver is capable of effectively
driving a 1200 V / 6 A SJT as shown in the turn-on
and turn-off waveforms of Figure 2 and Figure 3.
Two-Level Driver Parameter Selection
The tradeoffs of adjusting the gate driver
passive component values, CGP and RGP in the twolevel driver are similar to those described in
App Note AN-10A. However the introduction of a
Figure 5: Effect of gate driver capacitance CGP on
SJT device current turn-on tr and turn-off tf times
and total device energy loss.
Figure 7: Suggested RGP values for 1200 V,
GAXXJTXX series SJTs for VOL = 6.0 V.
It is shown in Figure 5 for a 1200 V / 6 A SJT
that at CGP = 9 nF, the SJT drain current switching
times, tr,, tf and device switching energy losses, Etot
are at their combined lowest values.
It is shown in Figure 6 that device current
transition times and energy losses are lowest at
VOH = 20 V. The upper-branch series resistor RCg
acts solely to damp oscillations in the circuit path
of CGP and should be valued around 1 Ω and have
low inductance.
Figure 6: Effect of gate voltage output VOH on SJT
current transition times and total device switching
energy loss.
second gate voltage affects the optimal parameter
values which obtain the best driver and device
switching performance.
During device turn-on, the dynamic gate current
transient (IG,SW in the Figure 4 gate current
waveform) is determined by VOH and CGP, which
dominates the transient behavior of the device,
similar to the single-level driver circuit. However
in the two-level scheme, the gate current through
the high output voltage branch goes to zero, once
CGP is fully charged.
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During steady on-state operation, after device
turn-on (see Figure 4), the gate current IG,ss is
determined by the lower branch voltage, VOL and
output resistor, RGP. Current will begin passing
through RGP once the gate voltage on the device
introduced by CGP drops below VOL. VOL must
exceed the SJT on-state gate-source voltage VGS
while the SJT is conducting drain current. For
typical condition, VGS ≈ 4.0 V, thus VOL ≥ 5.5 V is
acceptable value to maintain steady gate current
and VOL = 5.5 V has been used for all testing in this
paper in combination with RGP = 1.6Ω. These
conditions supply ~ 500 mA of gate current even
with minor transient fluctuation of VGS,on and
maintain the SJT in the saturation region, even at
175 °C. This gate current is higher than what is
required to turn the device on, however it is
Table 1: Optimal Gate Drive Parameter Values
15 V
20 V
15 V
6.0 – 5.5 V
- 5.0 V
9 nF
9 nF
22 Ω
1.6 Ω
Table 2: Gate Drive Power Loss Comparison
D = 0.7, f0 = 500 kHz, VDS = 600 V, ID = 6 A
3.85 W
0.45 W
0.54 W
1.15 W
45.6 W
46.0 W
54.7 W
52.28 W
suggested to overdrive an SJT in most applications
to ensure operation at a low VDS value. At higher
temperatures more gate current is required to
operate an SJT with VDS in the lowest possible
range and thus lower gate resistances are required
for this higher gate current to flow into the device
for a fixed VOL. Suggested RGP values are shown in
Figure 7 for certain devices.
Gate Drive Power Loss Comparison
Power loss occurs in both the transistor and the
gate drive circuitry and is a function of the gate
drive circuit, parameter values, switching
frequency f0, and duty cycle D. The gate drive
losses are comprised of the steady-state resistive
loss, Pdrive,SS and capacitive switching loss, Pdrive,Sw.
Among the several SJT power losses, switching
loss PSJT,Sw is extremely sensitive to the specific
gate drive configuration. These losses can be
calculated as:
AN-10A June 2013
, = ( −  )( −   ), ,
, =  ( −  )2 
, =   ,
where ts is the turn-on transient time shown in
Figure 4 and Etot is the total SJT switching energy
lost in one switch cycle [4]. From these driver
dependant losses, it can be determined which gate
drive topology, single or two-level, yields the
lowest total power loss for a particular system
operating frequency and duty cycle.
There is a power loss component arising from
the gate current flowing through the SJT gatesource junction, PGS, as well as the power loss
associated with charging the gate capacitance, PGC.
These two loss contributors are largely
independent of the gate driver topology, and differ
by only a few milliwatts between the single and
two-level gate drive. Therefore, these losses are
not considered in this discussion comparing the
gate drive topologies.
An analysis is performed of only the driver
dependent losses between the two optimized gate
drives when driving a 1200 V / 6 A SJT at 500 kHz
with a duty cycle of 0.7. The gate-drive parameter
values are shown in Table 1 and the power losses
are shown in Table 2 [5]. It can be observed in
Table 2 that use of the two-level driver lowers
system power loss due to the reduced driver steady
state losses Pdrive,SS. Power loss components not
shown are not dependant on the gate drive
topology. Lower steady state losses in the two
level driver translates to even greater power
savings for increased duty cycles, as shown in
Figure 8.
The device power losses in each switching
cycle (which constitute the largest fraction of all
driver offers a lower total power loss in nearly any
SJT application.
Figure 8: System power loss versus duty cycle for
a fixed switching frequency f.
SiC Junction Transistors are capable of fast
switching speeds with ultra-low losses without the
drawbacks of other SiC transistors or Si IGBTs. A
gate drive schematic is presented in this
application for lowering the overall system power
loss due to a reduction of steady state gate driver
losses compared to the simpler single-level driver
presented in AN-10A. Considerations of passive
component value selection are discussed and the
benefits and drawbacks of each approach are
[1] D. Veereddy, S. Sundaresan, S. Jeliazkov, M.
Digangi, and R. Singh, “Breakthrough High
Temperature Electrical Performance of SiC
‘Super’ [SiC] Junction Transistors,” Bodo´s
Power Systems, pp. 36–38, Oct-2011.
Figure 9: System power loss versus frequency
analysis for a fixed duty cycle D.
loss components) are very similar for both drivers.
Therefore, there is a weak dependence of the
difference in power loss between the two drivers
on switching frequency. Thus for a constant duty
cycle, the two-level driver will have an
approximately constant power savings compared to
the single-level driver for frequencies below
~ 500 kHz. The two-level driver will continue to
have lower total power loss at frequencies below
1.7 MHz for D ≥ 0.5. This constant power savings
value for the two-level driver is shown in Figure 9
for f < 1.0 MHz and D = 0.7. Thus, the two-level
AN-10A June 2013
[2] S. Sundaresan, M. Digangi, and R. Singh, “SiC
‘Super’ [SiC] Junction Transistors Offer
Breakthrough High Temp Performance,”
Power Electronics Technology, pp. 21–24,
[3] “IXD_614 Low-Side Driver Datasheet.” IXYS
[4] J. Rabkowski, G. Tolstoy, D. Peftitsis, and H.
Nee, “Low-Loss High-Performance BaseDrive Unit for SiC BJTs,” Power Electronics,
IEEE Transactions on, vol. 27, no. 5, pp.
2633–2643, 2012.