In Pursuit of the Future of Power Electronics Integration
Prof Thomas M Jahns (Grainger Professor of Power Electronics and Electrical Machines, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
In its role as a key enabling technology, power electronics has long been an appealing target for physical integration with the equipment it serves, motivated by desires to eliminate the need for special enclosures and connecting cables in order to achieve mass, volume, and cost savings. Despite some successes dating back to the 1960s, there have been a number of formidable obstacles that have limited the successful adoption of this integration technology, including the limited ability of power electronics is embedded. Despite these challenges, continuing advances in power electronics (PE) technology are gradually suppressing the barriers to successful integration. Key among these is the accelerating maturity of wide-bandgap power semiconductor switches (SiC and GaN) that offer exciting prospects for shrinking the size of power converters while simultaneously raising their operating temperatures. This presentation will explore the future of power electronics integration for a variety of applications by first reviewing some of the key technology milestones in the history of PE integration for a variety of applications by first reviewing some of the key technology milestones in the history of PE integration that have led to our current status today. Particular attention will be directed to integrated motor drives that have been an active area of PE integration research for many years, including research projects involving the author that span the last 25 years. Attention will turn next to a review of key motivating factors that are currently spurring new initiatives to aggressively pursue PE integration. This will lead, finally, to an examination of both the opportunities and challenges presented by emerging technologies that are likely to determine the rate of future progress towards realising the full potential of integrated power electronics and the benefits it will provide.