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High operating frequency and integration technique are two main approaches to achieve high power density for the switching mode power supply. The emerging gallium nitride (GaN)-based power device enables a multimegahertz high-efficiency point-of-load (POL) converter with high current capability. The low-temperature cofire ceramic (LTCC)-based integration technique successfully extends the three-dimensional (3-D) integrated POL module from the low current level to the high current level (>10 A). This paper presents the low-profile LTCC inductor substrate design and evaluation for a multimegahertz 3-D integrated POL converter with large output current. The detailed study about the impact of frequency on the LTCC inductor shows that the high frequency not only shrinks the volume of the inductor, but also simplifies the inductor structure. The comparison between the LTCC inductor and the discrete inductor demonstrates that the LTCC inductor dramatically boosts the converter light-load efficiency due to its nonlinear inductance. Because of the low-profile design, the power density of the single-phase POL module with LTCC inductor achieves 1.1 kW/in3 at 5 MHz. The performance of the LTCC inductor can be further improved by the inverse coupling, which results in more than 40% core thickness and core loss reduction. Therefore, the power density of a two-phase integrated POL module is pushed to 1.5 kW/in3, which is around ten times of the power density of state-of-the-art industry products with the same current level.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2013