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Published on 03/7/2015
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The insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) is a functional integration of Power MOSFET and BJT devices in monolithic form. It combines the best attributes of both to achieve optimal device characteristics. The IGBT is a three-terminal power semiconductor device primarily used as an electronic switch that can essentially combine high efficiency with fast switching much like the MOSFET.

History of IGBT

First-Generation of IGBTs was on 1980s to early 1990s were prone to failure through such modes as

-latch-up (in which the device will not turn off as long as current is flowing)

-and secondary breakdown (in which a localized hotspot in the device goes into thermal runaway and burns the device out at high currents).

Second-generation devices were ameliorated, and the current third-generation ones are even more refined, with speed rivaling MOSFETs, and excellent ruggedness and tolerance of overloads.

An IGBT features a significantly lower forward voltage drop compared to a conventional MOSFET in higher blocking voltage rated devices.

IGBTs are favored by high voltage, high current and low switching frequencies while MOSFETs are better for handling low voltage, low current and high switching frequencies

The IGBT is a semiconductor device with four alternating layers (P-N-P-N) that are controlled by a metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) gate structure without regenerative action. The additional P-N junction blocks reverse current flow. This means that unlike a MOSFET, IGBTs cannot conduct in the reverse direction. In bridge circuits, where reverse current flow is needed, an additional diode is placed in parallel with the IGBT to conduct current in the opposite direction. The penalty isn't overly severe because at higher voltages, where IGBT usage dominates, discrete diodes are of significantly higher performance than the body diode of a MOSFET.

Eupec Infineon - Infineon Technologies AG is a german manufacturer that spun off from its parent company Siemens AG to form its own semiconductor operations legal entity.

Fuji - Fuji Electric was established in 1923 as a capital and technology tie-up between Furukawa Electric and Siemens AG.

International Rectifier - International Rectifier is an American power management technology company that has recently become a part of Infineon Technologies in early 2015

IXYS - IXYS Corportation is a California based company founded in 1983.

Mitsubishi - Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is a Japanese electronic and electrical equipment manufacturing giant.

Powerex - Powerex Inc., is a Pennsylvania-based company specializing in high power semiconductor applications

Semikron - Semikron is an independent, family-owned and internationally leading manufacturer of power semiconductor components.

Toshiba - Toshiba Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate manufacturing electronics worldwide.

In conclusion, IGBTs have been utilized for many years and have been produced by various manufacturing giants for the reason that they integrate the advantages of both Power MOSFET and BJT to achieve optimal device characteristics. IGBTs continue to prove their usefulness and feasibility in today's modern society with its diverse purposes and functionalities.

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David Smith, Senior Vice President of USComponent.com , an IGBT power transistor module distributor since 2001.

David Smith, Senior Vice President of http://USComponent.com , an IGBT power transistor module distributor since 2001.