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The low-voltage synchronous rectifier buck topology suffers from low efficiency at light loads due to dissipation that does not scale with load current. In this paper we present a method for improving light-load efficiency in synchronous buck converters by reducing gate drive losses. We propose a new gate drive technique whereby the gate voltage swing dynamically scales with load current such that gate drive loss is traded for conduction loss. Since conduction losses scale with the square of load current, an optimal gate swing exists that, at light loads, is shown to be less than the supply voltage. Using this method we obtain a 6.25% increase in converter efficiency at a load current of 10 mA and operating at a constant switching frequency of 2 MHz.
Date of Publication: March 2005