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Currently, assemblies of power semiconductor switches and their associated drive circuitry are available in modules. From a few 100 watts downward, one finds silicon monolithic technology as the integration vehicle, while upward into the multi-kilowatt range, mixed mode module construction is used. This incorporates monolithic, hybrid, surface mount and wirebond technology. However, a close examination of the applications in motor drives and power supplies indicates that there has been no dramatic volume reduction of the subsystem. The power semiconductor modules have shrunk the power switching part of the converter, but the bulk of the subsystem volume still comprises the associated control, sensing, electromagnetic power passives and interconnect structures. The paper addresses the improvement of power processing technology through advanced integration of power electronics. The goal of a subsystem in a module necessitates this advanced integration. The central philosophy of this technology development research is to advance the state of the art by providing the concept of integrated power electronics modules (IPEMs). The technology underpinning such an IPEM approach is discussed. The fundamental functions in electronic power processing, the materials, processes and integration approaches and future concepts are explained.
Date of Publication: Fourth Quarter 2002