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On a Future for Power Electronics

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2 Author(s)
Jacobus Daniel van Wyk ; Dept. of Electr. & Electron. Eng. Sci., Univ. of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa ; Fred C. Lee

This paper presents a historical and philosophical perspective on a possible future for power electronics. Technologies have specific life cycles that are driven by internal innovation, subsequently reaching maturity. Power electronics appears to be a much more complex case, functioning as an enabling technology spanning an enormous range of power levels, functions and applications. Power electronics is also divided into many constituent technologies. Till now, the development of power electronics has been driven chiefly by internal semiconductor technology and converter circuit technology, approaching maturity in its internally set metrics, such as efficiency. This paper examines critically the fundamental functions found in electronic energy processing, the constituent technologies comprising power electronics, and the power electronics technology space in light of the internal driving philosophy of power electronics and its historical development. It is finally concluded that, although approaching the limits of its internal metrics indicates internal maturity, the external constituent technologies of packaging, manufacturing, electromagnetic and physical impact, and converter control technology still present remarkable opportunities for development. As power electronics is an enabling technology, its development, together with internal developments, such as wide bandgap semiconductors, will be driven externally by applications in the future.

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Emerging and Selected Topics in Power Electronics  (Volume:1 ,  Issue: 2 )