Circuit Topologies

2 Circuit topologies
2.1 Buck (step-down) converters
2 Circuit topologies
2.1 Buck (step-down) converters
The input voltage of the buck converter, also known as step-down converter, is always
higher or very close to the output voltage (Fig. 2.1). There are designs with fixed or
variable output voltage whose minimum or maximum values depend on different
design parameters, e.g. the internal reference.
Buck (step-down)
V out
V in
V in ≥ V out
Depending on Vin
Fig. 2.1: Schematic relationship between input and output voltage
The buck converter is the simplest converter of all switching regulators and the circuit
topology is very often used to supply power to processors that require a low voltage
and high current. As long as the difference between the input and output voltage is
not too high, a very good efficiency of up to 95% can be achieved. The low number of
components necessary allows for easy design-in, particularly as numerous regulators
and controllers from different manufacturers are already available on the component
An electrical isolation between the input and output is not possible and the buck
converter can only generate one output voltage.
I in
I out
V in
V out
R load
Fig. 2.2: Schematic buck converter
2 Circuit topologies
2.1 Buck (step-down) converters
Figure 2.2 shows the basic circuit of a buck converter, including the branch currents/
voltages. The voltage from the switch node (SW) to ground is termed as Vn. The switch
(S) (also see Chapter 1.3) has been replaced with a switching transistor (T) (bipolar,
FET, MOSFET). This can be part of an IC or may also be a separate component.
At the switch node between the transistor (T), diode (D) and inductor (L), depending on
the circuit state: transistor closed/diode blocks or transistor open/diode conducting,
the voltage changes between the value of Vin and ground potential minus diode forward
voltage (0V-VD) see Fig 2.3.
In the stationary state, the mean value of the output voltage is as follows:
Vout = Vin ·
ton + toff
= Vin · D
As the duty cycle D can only take on values between zero and one, the output voltage
is always lower than or equal to the input voltage.
If the transistor (T) is closed, the diode (D) is reverse biased and blocks. The current IL
then flows through the inductor (L) to the output capacitor (Cout) and to the connected
load (Rload).
At the end of the switch-on time, the inductor current has the following value:
IL on =
(Vin – Vout) · ton
At the end of the On-time ton, the switching transistor opens controlled by the internal
control circuit (controller IC). There is reversal of the voltage at the inductor and across
the diode. The diode is now polarized in the forward direction and the output capacitance continues to be charged with the energy stored in the inductor. The current
in the inductor drops and at the end of the switch-off time the inductor current has
attained the following value:
IL off =
(Vout – VD) · toff
The controller IC starts the next switching cycle by again closing the switch and the
process or functional sequence starts anew.
2 Circuit topologies
2.1 Buck (step-down) converters
The mean value inductor current of the buck converter corresponds to the output current Iout. The maximum current of the inductance IL max is given in the continuous mode
with the following relationship:
Vout · (1 –
IL max = Iout +
2 · fsw · L
The voltage and current waveforms of a continuous mode buck converter are as
­follows (Fig. 2.3):
Continuous mode
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