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Semiconductor Power Devices

Therefore, some power dissipation occurs when the switch goes through the linear region between on and off. This means that the most power dissipation depends on the time spent going from the off to on and vice versa, that is, going through the linear region. The faster the device goes through the linear region, the lower the power dissipation and losses. Excessive operating voltage can cause power semiconductor failures because the devices may have small spacing between their internal elements. An even worse condition for a power semiconductor is to have high voltage and high current present simultaneously.

A few nanoseconds at an excessive voltage or excessive current can cause a failure.

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Most power semiconductor data sheets specify the maximum voltage that can be applied under all conditions. Another common killer of power semiconductors is heat. Not only does high temperature destroy devices, but even operation at elevated, non-destructive temperatures can degrade useful life.

ECSE 4080 - Semiconductor Power Electronics

Power semiconductors can be destroyed by very short pulses of energy. A major source of destructive transients is caused by turning on or off an inductive load. Protection against these problems involves a careful combination of operating voltage and current margins and protective devices. These problems can occur in power semiconductor switches, because all sections of the device do not behave in an identical manner when subjected to very high rates of change. Switching power on and off at a rapid rate can cause electromagnetic interference EMI that can affect nearby electronic systems.