First double-sided B-TRAN power devices built

October 24, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
Ideal Power has successfully built prototypes of its double sided Bi-Directional Bi-Polar Junction TRANsistor (B-TRAN) device. 

With lower conduction and switching losses than other IGBT devices, Ideal Power believes that the B-TRAN has the capability to improve the efficiency of a range of power control and conversion equipment, such as variable frequency drives, solar PV inverters, bi-directional energy storage and microgrid power conversion systems, electric vehicle drivetrains, solid-state DC and AC contactors, and other power conversion products. Ideal Power holds over 20 patents on the B-TRAN including patents on the unique double handle wafer process that was used to produce the initial devices at its semiconductor foundry partner. 

"The fabrication of the first B-TRAN devices is a critical step in our efforts to commercialize this unique technology," said Bill Alexander, CTO of Ideal Power and co-inventor of the B-TRAN. "With its unique double-sided structure, B-TRAN is expected to deliver substantial performance improvements over today's power semiconductor devices in bi-directional power control applications. Currently, four conventional switches (two IGBTs and two diodes) are required to control power bi-directionally. We believe that the B-TRAN will be able to perform the same function with efficiency losses predicted to be 1/10th that of conventional switches. Additionally, the faster switching performance predicted for the B-TRAN should result in more efficient, smaller and lower cost power converters."

Earlier this year, Ideal Power announced that first silicon test results by its semiconductor foundry validated key characteristics of the technology. The results confirmed central elements and operational modes of the devices and were consistent with third party device simulations that predicted significant performance and efficiency improvements over conventional power switches such as SCRs, IGBTs and MOSFETs.

The devices produced by Ideal Power's fabricator are not production-ready devices and will be used to test and characterize the capabilities of the B-TRAN. Ideal Power will package these initial devices with supporting drive circuitry for testing and characterization which is expected to begin later this year. The results of this testing will be used to optimize the device design and manufacturing process.