dm00128617

AN4564
Application note
Is a positive power supply mandatory for my application,
or could a negative output work also?
By Laurent Gonthier and Jan Dreser
Introduction
In this application note we explain the reasons why some appliance designers might choose
a positive power supply. This selection is based mainly on the choice of switched mode
power supply (SMPS). Some specific applications cases, which are detailed in Section 3,
may also lead to the choice of a positive power supply.
Using a power supply with a positive output is not convenient for all applications. For
example, as explained in Section 1.2, a negative supply is preferred to drive AC switches.
We provide here an alternative solution which allows a negative output to be implemented
whenever possible. Further, many solutions allow both a negative and a positive output (for
the microcontroller) to be implemented, as shown in Section 2.
September 2014
DocID026782 Rev 1
1/18
www.st.com
18
Contents
AN4564
Contents
1
2
Supply polarity definition and AC switch triggering quadrants . . . . . . 3
1.1
Positive and negative power supplies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.2
AC switch triggering quadrants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Supply topology impact on polarity (negative/positive) . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.1
2.2
3
Buck or buck-boost converter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.1.1
The SMPS converter IC uses its internal supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.1.2
The SMPS converter IC is supplied from an external supply . . . . . . . . . 7
Flyback converter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.2.1
The SMPS converter IC uses its internal supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2.2.2
The SMPS converter IC is supplied from an external supply . . . . . . . . . 9
Other reasons a positive supply could be required and
solutions to switch to a negative supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
3.1
Power measurement circuits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
3.2
Control of BLDC motor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3.3
Voltage regulator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
4
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
5
Revision history . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
2/18
DocID026782 Rev 1
AN4564
Supply polarity definition and AC switch triggering quadrants
1
Supply polarity definition and AC switch triggering
quadrants
1.1
Positive and negative power supplies
To trigger an AC switch (i.e, Triac, ACST, ACS or SCR), a gate current has to be applied on
the gate pin and circulates between the gate and AC switch reference terminals.
The AC switch reference terminal is called Cathode (K) for SCR, A1 for Triac, or COM for
ACST and ACS.
This means that a non-insulated power supply is required to supply the gate, and this power
supply has to be related to the AC switch drive reference (K, A1 or COM).
There are two ways to connect this drive reference to the non-insulated power supply:

Solution 1: connect the control circuit ground (VSS) to drive reference (K or A1, as it
works only for standard Triacs and SCRs).

Solution 2: connect the control circuit voltage supply (VDD) to drive reference (A1 or
COM, as it works only for Triacs and ACST/ACS devices).
Solution 1 is called a positive power supply. The voltage supply (VDD) is indeed above the
drive reference (VSS) which is connected to the mains terminal (line or neutral), as shown in
Figure 1. If the supply is a 5 V power supply, then VDD is 5 V above the mains reference.
This topology can be used only with standard Triacs and SCR, not with non-standard Triacs,
ACS and ACST, as explained below.
It should also be noted that a positive power supply is required when the control circuit has
to drive a MOSFET with its drive reference (source) connected to the mains. Indeed, power
MOSFETs are N-channel devices and need a gate-source positive bias to be turned on.
Solution 2 is called a negative power supply. The voltage supply reference (VSS) is indeed
below A1 or COM, which is connected to the mains reference (line or neutral). If the supply
is a 5 V power supply, then VSS is 5 V below the line reference.
This topology can be used with all Triacs, ACS and ACST, but not with SCR, as explained
below.
Figure 1. Supply polarity definition
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Supply polarity definition and AC switch triggering quadrants
1.2
AN4564
AC switch triggering quadrants
To switch on an AC switch, like any bipolar device, a gate current must be applied between
its gate pin (G) and its drive reference terminal (refer also to AN3168).
Several cases occur:

For an SCR, this gate current has to be positive (circulating from G to K).

For a Triac and ACST, the gate current could be positive or negative (depending on the
voltage applied to the device).

For an ACS, the gate current has to be negative (circulating from COM to G).
Four triggering quadrants can be defined according to the polarity of the gate current and
the polarity of the voltage applied across the device, as shown on Figure 2.
For an SCR, only a positive gate current can switch on the device. Thus, the triggering
quadrants are not considered for SCR devices.
Figure 2. Triggering quadrants
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Table 1 summarizes the triggering quadrants for each of STMicroelectronics’ AC switch
families.
Table 1. Triggering quadrants for each AC switch family and class
Triggering quadrants
Family
Triac
ACS/ACST
4/18
Class
Q1
Q2
Q3
Q4
Standard



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Snubberless and logic level

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
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
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NA


NA



NA
ACS
ACST
DocID026782 Rev 1
AN4564
Supply polarity definition and AC switch triggering quadrants
As the triggering quadrants Q2 and Q3 are common to all Triacs and ACS / ACST devices,
the control mode in Q2 and Q3 is recommended. Indeed, the replacement of one device by
another (for example, if an ACST is used in place of a standard Triac) is possible. Moreover,
the triggering in Q4 is not advised because the triggering gate current is the highest. Also
the dI/dt capability of Triacs is lower in Q4 compared to the other quadrants. Working in Q2 /
Q3 quadrants is then advised, even for standard Triacs, to decrease board consumption
and increase board reliability.
As Q2 and Q3 triggering means the current is sunk from the device gate, the power supply
upper level has to be connected to the device drive reference (COM or A1). This means the
control circuit must use a “negative power supply”.
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Supply topology impact on polarity (negative/positive)
AN4564
2
Supply topology impact on polarity
(negative/positive)
2.1
Buck or buck-boost converter
Such supplies are usually used for low output currents and when an insulated supply is not
required.
Two different cases can occur based on whether or not the converter internal supply is
used.
2.1.1
The SMPS converter IC uses its internal supply
As the supply converter already features the supply for its internal MOS (the source of which
is connected back to the mains through the converter output capacitor), the designer does
not need to implement it. So the designer has the freedom to choose either a positive or
negative supply output according only to application requirements.
If a negative output is required, then a buck-boost can be implemented (see Figure 3). Good
output voltage precision is achieved with a regulator that consists of Q1A, D4, R6 and R7. A
buck-boost is as simple to implement as a buck, and offers better output voltage stability at
low output power (refer to AN3168).
The schematic in Figure 3 uses a VIPer06 converter from the VIPerPlus family. This device
is available in a small SSO10 surface mount package.
Figure 3. Buck-boost converter (-5 V / 120 mA) with use of internal self-supply
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It is clear that because a buck-boost allows only negative supply implementation, it can be
used only if a positive supply is not mandatory for the application. If a positive supply is
required (refer to Section 3), a buck converter must be implemented (Figure 4). In cases
where +/- 20% output voltage precision is sufficient, the circuit in Figure 4 can be used as
shown. If greater precision is required, an output regulator similar to Q1A, D4, R6 and R7 in
Figure 3 must be used.
6/18
DocID026782 Rev 1
AN4564
Supply topology impact on polarity (negative/positive)
Figure 4. Buck converter (+5 V / 150 mA) with use of internal self-supply
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2.1.2
The SMPS converter IC is supplied from an external supply
Sometimes it could be decided not to use the converter IC internal supply for the sake of
higher efficiency, especially for operation at very low power consumption in standby mode.
In this case, as explained in Section 1.1, a positive supply is required to supply the
converter IC, as the VIPerPlus internal MOSFET has its source connected back to the
mains through the SMPS output capacitor.
The classic choice for designers wishing to implement a positive power supply is to
implement a buck converter. But a buck-boost converter can also work. Indeed, as shown in
Figure 5, the freewheeling diode D3 allows capacitor C3 to be charged positively referred to
the source. This enables the implementation of a positive supply for the Viper IC while a
negative supply is implemented by the buck-boost converter.
Figure 5. Buck-boost converter (-5 V & -15 V / 150 mA) with external self-supply
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Flyback converter
A flyback converter is required for higher output currents and/or when an insulated supply is
required.
In this case two different scenarios can occur based on whether or not the SMPS IC uses its
internal self-supply.
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Supply topology impact on polarity (negative/positive)
2.2.1
AN4564
The SMPS converter IC uses its internal supply
If the SMPS IC controller uses its internal supply, and the MCU supply does not need to be
insulated, a negative output could be implemented by the converter with a single secondary
winding (see Figure 6), unless a positive supply is mandatory (refer to Section 3).
But if the MCU is referenced on the DC side, after a rectifier diode and before an inverter
used for motor control, or if the MCU cannot be connected to the mains voltage for safety
reasons (for example, if the MCU is connected to a sensor which could be touched by an
end-user), then the MCU supply needs to be insulated. Two supplies can then be
implemented with 2 secondary windings (each one insulated from the other): one is used to
implement the insulated output for the MCU, and one is used to implement the negative
output (connected to the AC side) as shown on Figure 7.
Figure 6. Non-insulated single negative (-3.3 V) supply in flyback topology used for
MCU and AC switch supply (IC supplied by its internal self-supply)
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8/18
DocID026782 Rev 1
AN4564
Supply topology impact on polarity (negative/positive)
Figure 7. Non-insulated negative supply and insulated positive supply in flyback topology (IC
supplied by its internal self-supply)
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As shown in the schematic in Figure 7, as the negative output is not regulated by the
feedback circuit, such a double-output supply has to be used only in applications where the
current sunk from the regulated output (+15 V here) is always higher than the current sunk
from the non-regulated output.
2.2.2
The SMPS converter IC is supplied from an external supply
If the IC converter is supplied externally, traditionally a designer’s first choice is to implement
a positive supply, as the MOSFET source is referenced back to the mains. But another
solution is possible to supply both the IC with a positive supply and to implement a negative
supply for other components like Triacs (also referenced to the mains). This solution
consists in connecting the IC source back to the mains through its output bulk capacitor
(refer to C5 in Figure 8). Then, as the IC VDD is connected to the mains, this allows a
negative supply (Section 1.1) to be implemented.
In this solution, the VIPerPlus internal MOSFET current, which is flowing out from the
source terminal, partially discharges C5. This is not a big concern as the MOSFET current is
the transformer primary current, and so is much lower than the secondary current going out
from terminal 4 of the secondary winding. So C5 is well charged and not discharged.
It should also be noted that, thanks to D6 diode, the VIPerPlus supply capacitor (C6) is not
discharged by the MOSFET current.
Also, a second solution to implement a negative and a positive supply, both referenced on
AC side, consists of using a 3-terminal secondary winding like the one shown in Figure 9.
Here, as the negative output is not regulated by the feedback circuit, such a supply must be
DocID026782 Rev 1
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18
Supply topology impact on polarity (negative/positive)
AN4564
used only in applications where the current sunk from the regulated output is always higher
than the current sunk from the non-regulated output. The VIPerPlus source could be
connected to the -5 V level, as was done on Figure 8, in cases where both negative and
positive supplies have to be monitored.
If an insulated supply is required for the MCU, then the solution in Figure 10 can be
implemented.
Figure 8. Flyback with insulated positive supply (+15 V / +3.3 V) and non-insulated negative supply
(-15 V) for SMPS IC and AC switches
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10/18
DocID026782 Rev 1
AN4564
Supply topology impact on polarity (negative/positive)
Figure 9. Flyback with non-insulated (-5 V) negative & positive supplies (+15 V / +3.3 V)
implemented with a 3-terminal winding
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Figure 10. Flyback with insulated supply and non-insulated negative & positive supplies
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DocID026782 Rev 1
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Other reasons a positive supply could be required and solutions to switch to a negative supply
3
Other reasons a positive supply could be required
and solutions to switch to a negative supply
We list here some reasons, apart from the choice of power supply topology, which could
lead to the need for a positive power supply.
Again, as a negative supply is preferred to trigger AC switches, we explain how an
alternative solution could be implemented, if possible, with a “negative-biased” circuit.
3.1
Power measurement circuits
There are several applications where a sensor is referenced to the mains. This is done, for
example, to monitor certain electrical parameters. For example, for universal motor controls,
a shunt resistor is often added in series with the AC switch to sense the load current and
then implement a speed or torque closed-loop control, or just to protect the AC switch in
case overcurrent is sensed (as shown on Figure 11). The shunt resistor R2 is then by
definition referenced to the mains as the Triac drive reference. And so the MCU reference is
also referenced to the mains.
Circuits are then traditionally implemented with a positive supply (see Figure 11.a) where
the shunt resistor is connected to the supply GND. Indeed, it seems more logical to sense a
voltage which increases when the shunt current increases also (as given in Equation 1
below).
Equation 1
V ADC
I Tpos = -------------R2
If a negative supply is used, then the schematic is that shown on Figure 11.b. In this case,
the R2 shunt is necessarily connected to the VDD of the supply. The MCU ADC input sees a
voltage which decreases when the Triac current increases, as it follows Equation 2 below.
So, the logic of the MCU firmware has to be adapted to take into account this reversed
measurement. But this is quite simple to implement.
Equation 2
V DD – V ADC
I Tneg = -------------------------------R2
Please also note that the circuits in Figure 11 can only sense the current during half a cycle
(circuit “a” allows positive current, going back to Neutral, to be sensed; circuit “b” allows the
negative part of the same current to be sensed). To sense both polarities, a circuit with an
offset has to be implemented (like that shown in Figure 12 for the voltage sensor).
12/18
DocID026782 Rev 1
AN4564 Other reasons a positive supply could be required and solutions to switch to a negative
Figure 11. Current sensor schematic with positive supply (a) or negative supply (b)
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In power metering applications, the mains voltage must be measured in order to calculate
the energy sunk from the grid. Here also, traditionally, designers implement circuits using a
positive supply (see Figure 12.a). But this schematic can also be adapted to a negative
supply (see Figure 12.b). The amplifier is connected as a differential amplifier and the zero
reference is shifted by the offset implemented with the R7-R8 divider. The voltage
measurement is the same as for positive supply as long as R5 and R6 are much higher than
R7 and R8, in order not to disturb the offset put on the non-inverting input of the operational
amplifier. The formula is then:
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3.2
Control of BLDC motor
Another application where a positive power supply can be required is the case where a 3phase inverter is used. Indeed, there are some topologies of motor control in the low power
range which use a single diode, instead of a diode bridge, to rectify the line voltage. Then,
as shown on Figure 13, the low-side IGBTs or MOSFETs of the inverter are referenced to
the neutral (or the line). As these devices need a positive bias to be applied to their gate
referred to their source, a positive supply has to be implemented. As Triacs are controlled by
DocID026782 Rev 1
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18
Other reasons a positive supply could be required and solutions to switch to a negative supply
the same control circuit as the inverter legs, they are also triggered by a current sourced to
their gate, i.e. in quadrants Q1 and Q4.
Figure 13. Positive supply for both Triacs and inverter control with single-wave rectification
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3.3
Voltage regulator
Figure 14 provides a reminder of negative and positive voltage regulators.
Positive regulators are used when the common point of both the +15 V and +5 V is the
GND. This is the case when the GND of both positive power supplies has to be connected
to the mains (neutral terminal in our case).
Negative regulators must be used when the common point of both the 15 V and 5 V supplies
is the upper level. This is the case especially if the lower negative supply (5 V in our case)
must be connected to the mains, which could be required if this supply is used to drive AC
switches.
It should be noted that if the designer prefers to have the GND as the common point of the
15 V and the 3.3 V or 5 V supplies, a positive regulator can also be used for a negative
supply (refer to Figure 15).
Figure 14. Positive (a) and negative (b) voltage regulator classic circuits
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AN4564 Other reasons a positive supply could be required and solutions to switch to a negative
Figure 15. Positive regulator used for negative supply of Triac control circuit
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Another reason why a positive power supply is used is because positive voltage regulators
allow lower power consumption in standby mode. Indeed, positive linear voltage regulators
can be found with internal consumption in the range of 50 µA, while the typical consumption
of a negative voltage regulator is around 2 mA. This quiescent current significantly affects
the standby consumption of the SMPS.
Another reason is that 3.3 V MCUs are promoted widely and it is very difficult to find
accurate 3.3 V negative voltage regulators with low consumption.
For these reasons, the circuit in the Figure 15 schematic could be implemented to combine
both the advantages of a negative power supply and the advantages of a positive voltage
regulator.
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18
Conclusion
4
AN4564
Conclusion
This application note has listed why, in some cases, a positive supply is required to simplify
the SMPS or the sensor design. Although the positive topology is often chosen by habit, we
have provided several examples where a negative supply output could also be implemented
as easily as that of a positive one, and with the benefit of allowing AC switches to be driven
in quadrants Q2 and Q3.
If a negative output can then be implemented for the MCU, as proposed in the various
examples given, the AC switch driving circuits proposed in AN3168 could be used.
If a positive supply is really mandatory, application note AN440 explains how to implement
an AC switch driving circuit according to the different AC switch technologies and the
different application cases (one or two positive supplies, positive supply for MCU and
negative supply available).
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Revision history
Revision history
Table 2. Document revision history
Date
Revision
11-Sep-2014
1
Changes
Initial release.
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