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Multilevel inverter technology has emerged recently as a very important alternative in the area of high-power medium-voltage energy control. This paper presents the most important topologies like diode-clamped inverter (neutral-point clamped), capacitor-clamped (flying capacitor), and cascaded multicell with separate DC sources. Emerging topologies like asymmetric hybrid cells and soft-switched multilevel inverters are also discussed. This paper also presents the most relevant control and modulation methods developed for this family of converters: multilevel sinusoidal pulsewidth modulation, multilevel selective harmonic elimination, and space-vector modulation. Special attention is dedicated to the latest and more relevant applications of these converters such as laminators, conveyor belts, and unified power-flow controllers. The need of an active front end at the input side for those inverters supplying regenerative loads is also discussed, and the circuit topology options are also presented. Finally, the peripherally developing areas such as high-voltage high-power devices and optical sensors and other opportunities for future development are addressed.
Date of Publication: Aug 2002