Rohde & Schwarz Inc.
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CHARACTERIZING PARASITIC COMPONENTS IN POWER ­CONVERTERS

Published by Rohde & Schwarz Inc.

The increased utilization of wide-bandgap semiconductors such as gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) in power converters has enabled highly power-dense supplies that operate with low switching losses and higher efficiency. However, the benefits of these fast switching transistors used within power converters can be limited if the effects of parasitics appearing at high frequencies are not considered.

While parasitics can occur due to improper layout practices at the chip, package and PCB level with components and their interconnections, the passive components used within a converter are an overlooked cause of parasitics that can be easily characterized with the right tools. These parasitics can negatively impact performance factors such as conducted emissions, potentially causing engineers to endure an entire redesign – an outcome that can be avoided through proper characterization of the passive components at the early stages of the design phase. Such characterization often requires engineers to seek information beyond what is found within the data sheets of passive components. LCR meters are an excellent tool for this characterization since they can assess a component’s behavior by mimicking the actual operating conditions of the circuit itself (e.g. frequency, voltage/current level and DC bias) to measure the complex ratio between voltage and current and obtain the series resistance, reactance, inductance, capacitance, dissipation factor and quality factor.

This article offers an introduction to parasitics as well as a description of parasitics within passive components such as capacitors, inductors and resistors. Finally, we describe the basic operation of an LCR meter and showcase a demonstration of how to use the R&S®LCX200 LCR meter.

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Related Categories Test & Measurement, Components, Power, Semiconductors, Resistors, Capacitors, Inductors, Transformers, PCB