Power Electronics has been so ubiquitous today that attempting to define the subject in a few words is next to impossible. Broadly speaking, this is the field of engineering science that deals with conversion of electric power from one form to another. According to a very simple definition from Wikipedia, “Power electronics is the application of solid-state electronics to the control and conversion of electric power.” It is quite astonishing to note that around 80% of the total power generated globally is reprocessed through some form of power electronic systems. Quite naturally, the subject attracts high degree of importance as it deals with power conversion efficiency that is related to almost every electrical machine or plant design.
Background of the development
Literally the history of the application of power electronics goes back to 1902, when Peter Cooper Hewitt, an American electrical engineer and inventor of mercury-vapour lamp, invented the mercury arc rectifier, the first rectifier or the forefather of the modern rectifiers that convert AC (Alternating Current) to DC (Direct Current) without using any mechanical means.
The real breakthrough came in 1959 with the development of MOSFET (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor) by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs. They started gaining huge popularity
due to some salient advantages including low gate drive power, fast switching speed, easy advanced paralleling capability, wide bandwidth, ruggedness, easy drive, simple biasing, ease of application and ease of repair.
Yet another device called IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) came to the market in 1982. This is a three-terminal semiconductor switching device capable of fast switching with high efficiency. It has the power handling capability of the bipolar transistor and the advantages of the isolated gate drive of the power MOSFET. IGBT finds wide application in amplifiers for switching or processing complex wave patters with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).
Applications of MOSFET & IGBT
MOSFETs and IGBTs are nowadays selectively used in power electronics according to the required I/O characteristics. In the low-current region, the MOSFET exhibits a lower on-state voltage than the IGBT. However, in the high-current region, the IGBT exhibits lower on-state voltage than the MOSFET, particularly at high temperature. IGBTs are commonly used at a switching frequency lower than 20 kHz because they exhibit higher switching loss than unipolar MOSFETs.
The market driving forces
Today, the power electronics technology has reached a remarkably mature stage after several years of dynamic evolution of semiconductor devices, converters, PWM techniques, electrical machines, motor drives, advanced control and simulation techniques. The day is not far when today’s flow of 80% of total (globally) generated power through power electronic systems will become 100%.
The major driving forces are: speeding up of global industrialization, upgradation of general energy systems, meticulously undertaking the energy saving drives, rapid development in renewable energy harnessing and strategic deployment of electric or hybrid vehicles.
Whether it is conversion from AC to AC, AC to DC, DC to DC or DC to AC, everywhere we need application of power electronics. A little consideration will show that tackling challenges of climate change is directly related to the development of power electronics – as it has a lot to deliver in the emerging and growing fields of energy saving, renewable energy harnessing, bulk energy storage development, and plying electric or hybrid vehicles.
MOSFET & IGBT Gate Drivers Market 2020
According to a recent market survey by Expresswire (Published by MarketWatch), the “Global ‘MOSFET and IGBT Gate Drivers Market’ is expected to grow at a CAGR of roughly 5.2% over the next five years, and will reach 1750 million USD in 2024, from 1290 million USD in 2020.”
The report also states, the“United States had the largest global export quantity and manufacturers in MOSFET and IGBT Gate Drivers market, while the Europe was the second sales volume market for MOSFET and IGBT Gate Drivers
In the industry, Infineon Technologies profited most in 2017 and in the recent years, ON Semiconductor and STMicroelectronics ranked 2 and 3. The market shares of them were 18.27%, 13.48% and 9.42% respectively in 2017.”
Highlighting the market operation and potential, the report states, “The gap of market share is being enlarged due to different strategies. Nowadays, there are five main types of MOSFET and IGBT Gate Drivers, including Single Channel Gate Drivers, Half-bridge Gate Drivers, Full Bridge Gate Drivers, Three Phase Gate Drivers and Others. Half-bridge Gate Drivers is the main type for MOSFET and IGBT Gate Drivers, and the Half-bridge Gate Drivers reached a sales volume of approximately 232.77 M Units in 2017, with 41.94% of global sales volume.”
Pointing at the business pie and the opportunity for the new entrants, the report categorically communicates, “MOSFET and IGBT Gate Drivers technology is much mature now, and new enterprises cannot surpass existing famous brands on reputation or design in the short term. So, the study group recommends the new entrants need to be careful before they decide to enter into this field.
Some of the prominent PE giants
As per Reportlinker, “While global megatrends sweeping through the market influence the primary direction of growth, regional markets are swayed by more granular locally unique business drivers. Several macroeconomic factors and internal market forces will shape growth and development of demand patterns in emerging countries in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East.”
The report also reveals, “Competitors identified in this market include, among others, ABB Group (Switzerland); Analog Devices, Inc. (USA); Danfoss A/S (Denmark); Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. (Japan); Hitachi Ltd. (Japan); Infineon Technologies AG (Germany); Littelfuse, Inc. (USA); Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. (USA); Microchip Technology, Inc. (USA); Microsemi Corporation (USA); Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Japan); NXP Semiconductors NV (The Netherlands); ON Semiconductor Corporation (USA); Renesas Electronics Corporation (Japan); ROHM Co., Ltd. (Japan); SEMIKRON Elektronik GmbH & Co. KG (Germany); STMicroelectronics NV (Switzerland); Texas Instruments, Inc. (USA); Toshiba Corporation (Japan); and Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. (USA).”
Some of the prominent Indian players working in this field are: Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd., Atmel R&D India Pvt. Ltd., AVX Corporation Infineon Technologies India Pvt. Ltd., EPCOS India Pvt. Ltd., Infineon Technologies India Pvt. Ltd., Insel Rectifiers Pvt. Ltd., Microchip Technology Inc., RECOM Asia Pte. Ltd., Rohm Semiconductor India Pvt. Ltd., STMicroelectronics Pvt. Ltd., Texas Instruments India Pvt. Ltd., TOSHIBA Semiconductor & Storage Products, Vicor Power and Vishay Components India Pvt. Ltd.
Looking at the future
MarketsAndMarkets recently reported, “APAC has been the fastest-growing region in terms of consumption of power electronic products and solutions compared to other regions in the world, owing to the increasing adoption of power electronics in consumer, industrial and automotive applications across various countries such as China, Japan, India and South Korea, among others.” So, the growth chart indicates a good positive trend.
Further developments in the field of power electronics will mostly centre around the software development. In India beside others, we are specially focused on development of renewable energy and deployment of electric vehicles. In both of these areas, there is tremendous potential of power electronics. In fact, in another few years we may run short of power electronics experts. So, our universities must develop more courses and take up renewed R&D initiatives in this field.