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NTC Temperature Control for IGBT and Power MOSFET Module

Temperature control is one of the key factors for a MOSFET or IGBT power module to work efficiently. Although some MOSFETs are equipped with an internal temperature sensor (body diode), there are other ways to monitor and control temperature. A semiconductor silicon PTC resistor can be used with well-defined current control or a Pt- or Ni-based resistance temperature detector (RTD) with moderately low resistance values and more linear performance. Whether the sensor is an SMD, a wire bonded die, or even a sintered die, an NTC thermistor remains the most sensitive and versatile temperature sensor. When designed properly, it will ensure the proper derating and eventual shutdown of the module in case of overheating or excessive external temperature.Alain Stas Bruno Van Beneden

In this article we will focus on a bondable NTC die and adopt the path of analog electronic simulation to show how fundamentally a derating and a shutdown can be operated in a power module. Why analog? It’s the best way to simplify things and illustrate the different phenomena in a visual way. It’s also ideal for developing an intuitive application. The last motivation is pecuniary: we will develop a simulation within the limits of a free software (LTspice), while other design tools would possibly allow for more sophisticated designs.

So, let’s take the LTspice design in Figure 1, which is a simple boost converter design. However, thanks to the versatility of LTspice, the IGBT and the diode models have been replaced with thermal models, where the heat fluxes are explicitly represented with an output pin, allowing them to be connected to a thermal circuit (the heatsink, for example). We will here use a simple RC circuit (in the real world, the designer would need to carefully define the Zth model as a Cauer or a Foster model).

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