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A novel three-level (3L) bidirectional converter (BDC) is proposed in this paper. Compared with the traditional BDC, the inductor of the 3L BDC can be reduced significantly so that the dynamic response is greatly improved. Hence, the proposed converter is very suitable for fuel-cell/battery hybrid power systems. In addition, the voltage stress on the switch of the proposed converter is only half of the voltage on the high-voltage side, so it is also suitable for high-voltage applications. The operation principle and the implementation of the control circuit are presented in detail. This paper also proposes a novel bidirectional soft-start control strategy for the BDC. A 1-kW prototype converter is built to verify the theoretical analysis.