Current Limits in Electronic Fuses using Direct and Kelvin R Limit Connections

Current Limits in Electronic
Fuses using Direct and
Kelvin R Limit Connections
their internal configuration. The basic concepts work also
for eFuse designs using separate die for the SENSEFET®
and control circuits but there are subtle differences in the
The primary function of an Electronic Fuse, or eFuse, is
to limit current, the same function provided by any fuse or
positive temperature coefficient device (PTC). An eFuse,
however, provides this function with much more versatility
than either of these devices. An eFuse, unlike a standard
fuse, need not be replaced after it functions and eFuses also
respond more rapidly than a either a fuse or PTC. eFuses can
also limit current in situations in which a traditional fuses
and PTCs will not work. This is especially true when voltage
is first provided to a circuit, such as during a hot plug
operation, when inrush current can be extremely high. This
application note will explain the basic operation of an
eFuse’s current limit function and explain important eFuse
concepts such as Overload and Short Circuit currents, and
Kelvin versus Direct connection of the eFuse’s current sense
resistor. This document is valid for eFuses NIS5135,
NIS5132, and NIS5232 as well as other eFuses which share
Basic eFuse Operation
ON Semiconductor’s family of Electronic Fuses use a
power MOSFET known as a SENSEFET to control current
in the load. All power MOSFETs are made up of thousands
of parallel FETs or cells. In a SENSEFET a small percent of
the FET cells have their sources separated from the sources
of the remaining FET cells. The ratio of cells in the main and
small section of the SENSEFET is often about 1000. All of
the FET cells share common gate and drain connections. The
use of a SENSEFET in an eFuse is illustrated conceptually
in Figure 1, where QM is the main section of the SENSEFET,
and QS is the small, or sense, section of the SENSEFET.
Figure 1. SENSEFET and Current Limit Circuit
SENSEFET. As long as RS is much less than the resistance
of QS the current through the full SENSEFET will be [email protected],
where k is the ratio of cells between the main and sense
sections of the SENSEFET.
In eFuse operation a sense resistor, RS, is placed between
the source of the sense section of the SENSEFET and the
source of the main section of the SENSEFET as shown in
Figure 1. Measuring the voltage drop across RS provides a
measure of current through the sense section of the
© Semiconductor Components Industries, LLC, 2016
June, 2016 − Rev. 0
Publication Order Number:
Since only a small fraction of the main current flows in the
sense FET, the current sensing resistor can be a more
reasonable value in terms of resistance and power
dissipation. For example, to sense a 100 mV signal from a
5.0 A current using a normal MOSFET would require a
20 mW, 1.5 W resistor, assuming a factor of 3 derating for
power. If a SENSEFET with a ratio of 1000:1 is used for the
same current and sense voltage, a 20 W (R = 0.1 V/0.005 A)
resistor is needed and dissipates just 0.5 mW. This results in
a significant cost savings for the current sense resistor.
To initiate current limitation through the SENSEFET a
comparator circuit compares the voltage across RS to a
reference voltage, Vref. (For convenience in this document
the reference voltage will be represented by a Zener diode.)
Current through the SENSEFET will be restricted when
V S + I S @ R S + V ref
Four types of analysis will be done. Overload and Short
Circuit current limits will be derived for both Kelvin and
Direct connection of the sense resistor. These terms will be
explained below.
The analysis below provides good understanding of the
functionality of an eFuse and the meanings of terms such as
Overload and Short Circuit currents and Kelvin and Direct
connection. Final system design should however be based
on datasheet plots of the Overload and Short Circuit
Currents for Kelvin and Direct connection since the
equations below do not include all of the subtle effects
present in the SENSEFET and other circuit elements.
Overload and Short Circuit Current Limits
When an eFuse is in normal operation the SENSEFET
provides a low resistance path between a power source and
the load. In this situation the SENSEFET is fully enhanced
and in its linear state. In the linear state the SENSEFET
behaves as a low value resistor, as shown in Figure 2. When
the SENSEFET is restricting current there will be significant
voltage drop between drain and source and SENSEFET will
be in saturation. In saturation current through the
SENSEFET is insensitive to the voltage across the device as
shown in Figure 2. For this reason it is necessary to analyze
the relation between the sense resistor and limiting current
differently for the situation of the load resistance dropping
during normal operation and the situation when the eFuse is
limiting current, such as during a hot plug operation.
(eq. 1)
Since Im = [email protected]
Im + k
V ref
(eq. 2)
This equation appears to provide a simple way to choose
a resistor value to limit current at a desired current, if the
values of k and Vref are known. Unfortunately, two factors
complicate the situation. First of all, MOS transistors
operate very differently when they are fully turned on and
when they in a fully or partially turned off state. Secondly,
even though SENSEFET transistors are designed to have
very low resistance in their on state, parasitic resistances
such as in bond wires cannot be ignored in some situations.
Saturation Region
Linear Region
Drain to Source Current
V Gate
= 6 Vt
= 5 Vt
= 4 Vt
= 3 Vt
= 2 Vt
= 1 Vt
= 0 V
Drain to Source Voltage
Figure 2. Basic MOS functionality
To distinguish the different limiting currents between
linear and saturated operation the following terms are used.
• Overload Current: an overload condition occurs when
the eFuse is in normal operation in the linear mode and
a drop in load resistance creates an increase in current.
When operating in the linear region an eFuse will limit
current if the Overload current is exceeded.
• Short Circuit Current: When the source or output of an
eFuse is shorted to ground there will be a large voltage
drop between the eFuse drain and source. The eFuse is
then in saturation mode and current will be limited to
the Short Circuit current. The Short Circuit current
limit applies anytime the eFuse in operating in
When the SENSEFET is fully enhanced a typical
resistance can be just 30 or 40 mW. This is not much higher
than bond wire resistances which can be on the order of
several mW, even if several bond wires are used in parallel.
For this reason bond wire resistance either needs to be
accounted for in the analysis or accounted for in how the
eFuse is configured.
Kelvin versus Direct Connection
Most eFuse packages have several pins dedicated to the
source connection of the SENSEFET. This gives two
options for connecting RS, as shown in Figure 3. If one of the
source pins is used to connect RS directly to the source of the
main section of the SENSEFET on the eFuse die, the voltage
drop across bond wires does not affect the voltages seen by
the comparator. This type of connection is known as Kelvin
connection. The disadvantage of the Kelvin connection is
that the resistance of bond wires in the current path for the
main section of the SENSEFET is increased, resulting in a
net increase in voltage drop across the eFuse. Analysis will
be done for both configurations below.
Figure 3. Comparison of Kelvin and Direct connection of the sense resistor RS
Kelvin Connection
Kelvin Connection in Linear Mode (Overload)
Analysis for Kelvin connection will be done first since the
equations are simpler:
Kelvin Connection in Saturation Mode (Short Circuit)
Load Connection Point
Load Connection Point
Figure 5. Circuit for Kelvin connection in linear mode
The equivalent for linear mode using Kelvin sensing is
shown in Figure 5. In linear mode the SENSEFETs can be
considered resistors, with Rds(sense) = kRds(main). As in the
analysis in the saturation mode, RBS can again be ignored.
In this analysis all voltages will be referenced to point A
in Figure 5.
VS +
R ds(sense) ) R S
@ VD
(eq. 6)
V D + I m @ R ds(main)
(eq. 7)
We get:
VS +
(eq. 3)
The condition of current limiting is VS = Vref giving:
@ I @ R ds(main)
R ds(sense) ) R S m
(eq. 8)
Using Rds(sense) = kRDS(main)
VS +
(eq. 4)
Solving for Im
k @ V ref
Im +
An equivalent circuit when the SENSEFET is in
saturation mode using Kelvin sensing is shown in Figure 4.
In saturation mode the current through the SENSEFET is
insensitive to the voltage across the device. The current
through the sense and main FETs will then scale with their
size, or IS = Im/k. The resistor RBS is the resistance of the
wire bond for the single Source pin used to connect the
single Source pin to the sense resistor, while RB is the
resistance of the wire bonds of the Source pins connected to
the load. In this analysis RBS will be ignored since it is a
small resistance in series with Rds(sense) and RS.
In this analysis all voltages will be referenced to point A
in Figure 4.
Im @ RS
V ref +
R B*
Figure 4. Circuit for Kelvin connection in saturation
Im @ RS
R ds(main)
R B*
VS + IS @ RS +
@ I @ R ds(main)
kR ds(sense) ) R S m
(eq. 9)
k @ V ref
V ref
R ds(main)
(eq. 10)
Solving for Im
(eq. 5)
Im +
Equation (4) gives an expression for the limiting current
as a function of the sense resistor value in the saturation
mode for a Kelvin connected eFuse. Note that this is the
same expression as Equation (2). This is the Short Circuit
current for Kelvin connection.
Equation (10) gives an expression for the limiting current
for the eFuse in linear mode when the eFuse is wired in
Kelvin mode. Note that the expression for the limiting
current in linear mode, Equation (10), is the same as that for
the saturation mode, Equation (6), except for the addition of
a constant term. The significance of this extra term in the
Overload or linear mode is that when the voltage drop across
the main portion of the the SENSEFET equals Vref the eFuse
will always start to limit current.
Kelvin Example
Single bond wire resistance = 15 mW
An example of calculated Overload and Short Circuit
Currents is shown in Figure 6. The following parameter
values are used in all examples.
k = 1000
VS = 70 mV
RB* = 3.75 mW for 4 bond wires in parallel (Kelvin example)
RB = 3 mW for 5 bond wire in parallel (Direct example)
Rds(main) = 38 mW
Figure 6. Sample of Overload and Short circuit Currents for Kelvin connection
Direct Connection
through QM and QS closely match the ratio of the number of
cells or:
In direct connection the sense resistor, RS, is connected
directly between the ILimit pin and the source of the
SENSEFET as shown in Figure 1.
IS +
In this analysis all voltages are referenced to the Load
Connection Point in Figure 7.
Current is limited when the following condition is met;
Direct Connection in Saturation Mode
Figure 7 shows an equivalent circuit for an eFuse in
saturation when the sense resistor is in direct connection.
V S + VȀ ref + V ref ) I m @ R B
V ref
@ R S + V ref ) I m @ R B
(eq. 14)
Solving for Im
Im +
(eq. 13)
Using Equation (11) yields
(eq. 12)
Since VS = IS @ RS
I S @ R S + V ref ) I m @ R B
(eq. 11)
Load Connection Point
k @ V ref
RS * k @ RB
(eq. 15)
Equation (15) describes the relationship between the
limiting current and sense resistor when the SENSEFET is
in saturation mode. This is the Short Circuit current for an
eFuse with the sense resistor in Direct connection. Note that
the Direct connection expression for Short Circuit current,
Equation (15), reduces to the Kelvin connection expression
for Short Circuit current, Equation (5), if the bond wire
resistance is set to zero.
Figure 7. Saturation Mode Equivalent Circuit
As in the analysis of saturation mode for Kelvin
connection the SENSEFET elements can be considered
current sources. In this situation the ratio of the current
Direct Connection in Linear Mode
Using the relation Rds(sense) = kRDS(main) and Equation
(16) we obtain:
An equivalent circuit for the eFuse in linear mode with
Direct connection is shown in Figure 8.
VS +
k @ R ds(main) ) R S
(eq. 18)
Current limiting will begin when VS = V’ref. Since
VȀ ref + V ref ) I m @ R B
I m @ R S @ ǒR ds(main) ) R BǓ
(eq. 19)
and, using Equation (18) we get
V ref ) I m @ R B +
I m @ R S @ ǒR ds(main) ) R BǓ
k @ R ds(main) ) R S
(eq. 20)
Solving for Im gives
Im +
Load Connection Point
Im +
As in the case of linear mode with Kelvin connection the
SENSEFET transistors can be considered resistors.
In this analysis voltages are referenced to the Load
Connection Point in Figure 8.
The voltage drop across the eFuse drain−source terminals
R ds(sense) ) R S
(eq. 21)
k @ V ref
V ref @ R S
(eq. 22)
R S ) k @ R B R ds(main)ǒR S * k @ R BǓ
Equation (22) is the Overload current with Direct
connection. Note that Equation (22) reduces to the Kelvin
expression for the Overload current Equation (10) if the
bond wire resistance is set to zero.
Direct Connection Example
Figure 9 adds curves for Direct connection to the ones for
Kelvin connection from Figure 6. For high values of RS the
Direct and Kelvin curves merge, while for low RS the Direct
connection limiting currents are always larger. In Direct
connection, current through the bond wires increases the
value of Vref ’, increasing the currents at which the eFuse
begins to limit current.
(eq. 16)
Assuming Im ^ ID the sense voltage VS is generated by
the voltage V’D and the voltage divider consisting of
Rds(sense) and RS:
V S + VȀ D +
R SǒR ds(main) ) R BǓ * R Bǒk @ R ds(main) ) R SǓ
Expanding the numerator and denominator allows this to
be written as:
Figure 8. Linear (Overload) equivalent circuit
VȀ D + I m @ ǒR ds(main) ) R BǓ
V refǒk @ R ds(main) ) R SǓ
(eq. 17)
Figure 9. Samples of Overload and Short circuit Currents for both Direct and Kelvin connection using the same
parameter values
If the load resistance drops to 0.5 W the current will rise, but
the question is, how far? If the eFuse were not present we
would expect the current to increase to 10 A (5 V/0.5 W),
point B in Figure 10. Since the SENSEFET is in the linear
mode the Short Circuit curve, which is valid for saturation,
is not relevant. The current will therefore increase until it
reaches the Overload curve at about 4.6 A. Once the current
reaches the Over Load curve the current limit circuit will
activate and begin to turn off the SENSEFET. The maximum
current will therefore be 6.28 A. Once the SENSEFET
begins to limit current the SENSEFET moves from linear
mode to saturation mode. At this point the Short Circuit
curve becomes important and the current will decrease to the
Short Circuit curve, or about 2.6 A.
Two specific cases will be used to help explain the nature
of the Short Circuit and Overload curves. Both examples
will be based on the calculated curves for Direct connection
in Figure 10. We will first consider the following situation.
Case 1
RS = 30 W
Operating voltage = 5 V
Normal load impedance = 5 W
Load during fault = 0.5 W
Well after turn on and any turn on transients this device
will carry 1 A of current, point A in Figure 10.This is below
both the Short Circuit and Overload curves. This means that
the SENSEFET will be in linear mode with low impedance.
Figure 10. Overload and Short circuit currents for Direct and connection with example current points
the SENSEFET is in the saturated mode, meaning that the
Short Circuit curve is relevant. In this case the voltage across
the load will never reach 5 V because the Electronic Fuse
will limit the current at the Short Circuit current value of
0.91 A for the 80 W RS. There is also a dV/dt circuit limiting
the current.
Case 2
RS = 80 W
Operation voltage = 5 V
Normal load impedance = 2.5 W
Load Capacitance = 10 mF
In this case the normal operating current after any initial
transients should be 2 A, point C in Figure 10. This places
the operating point between the Short Circuit and Over Load
curves. This creates an interesting situation under a hot plug
application. Before the load is plugged in the source of the
SENSEFET will be at 5 V. When the load is plugged in the
large capacitance creates a temporary short to ground,
resulting in a large drain to source voltage on the
SENSEFET, putting the SENSEFET into saturation. As the
capacitor charges the voltage rises toward 5 V, but the
current needs to pass through the Short Circuit curve before
it reaches the expected 2 A of current. During the voltage rise
This Application Note has given a detailed explained of
how ON Semiconductor’s Electronic Fuses limit current
with the use of a SENSEFET device. The two current levels,
overload and short circuit, which will trigger the Electronic
Fuse to limit current are explained. Kelvin and Direct
connections of the sense resistor are explained and
theoretical expressions for the Overload and Short Circuit
currents are derived for Kelvin and Direct connection.
SENSEFET is a registered trademark of Semiconductor Components Industries, LLC (SCILLC) or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries.
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