Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
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Power electronics refers to a branch of electrical engineering that focuses on the generation, supply, and delivery of high-voltage power systems so that they can be used in their respective application areas. The target devices or loads should get enough power to meet their specifications. Power electronics guarantee the reliability, safety, and efficiency of the power systems.
How do power electronics work? As we have seen, this field is quite wide and broad. It comprises numerous components which must work together to meet different goals. Discrete semiconductor components are always at the center of the power electronics. These components are present in every phase of power electronics. Keep reading as we discuss the different roles of discrete semiconductor components in power electronics.
Overview of power semiconductor components in power electronics
The relevance of power electronics starts right at the point of power generation. Here the power that is generated from the source should be able to meet the required AC voltage that is supposed to be supplied by the grid.
Take an example of the hydroelectric power system. The generated DC voltage will keep varying depending on the force of the waterfall at the power station. At the same time, the loads will require maximum constant current so as to operate at the highest levels of efficiency. For this to be achieved, there should be an interface that matches the generated DC voltage and the AC current that is to be consumed by the load. Additionally, there should be an efficient mechanism that should minimize any possibilities of power loss during the transmission process. On top of it, safety should be guaranteed at every stage; starting from the power generation to the point of power consumption by the devices.
Discrete semiconductor devices have made things easier and more manageable when it comes to power electronics. These devices or components conduct current under certain conditions, a feature that makes them suitable for power electronics applications. Another key feature is they have a wide energy band hence suitable for high-voltage applications. However, they are still suitable for low-voltage applications. High thermal capacity is just another unique feature of semiconductor materials that makes them ideal for power electronics applications.
Advantages of discrete semiconductors in power electronics
Each discrete semiconductor component comes with an advantage, especially when used in power electronics. Let’s look at some of these advantages.
High current and voltage capacities
One outstanding feature of discrete semiconductors is the capacity to handle high current and voltage. We know that most power electronic applications are characterized by high voltage. Discrete components that are used should have the full capacity to handle the current that is generated at the voltage source and bring it to a manageable level. High power capacities of discrete components contribute towards the efficiency of the whole power system.
However, this does not in any way mean that the semiconductors are not suitable for low-voltage applications. They can still be used in streamlining the operations of power electronics that are used in low-voltage applications.
Flexibility in power electronics
Power electronic systems are built from scratch. Each system is designed and built to meet specific needs and applications. Discrete semiconductors have made it easier for engineers, designers, and developers to build power electronic systems. This is achieved mainly due to the fact that these components come in different power specifications. This means that all that is required is to analyze the power requirements and then bring together different components that will guarantee a workable solution.
Flexibility is also extended to the ease of customizing the power electronic systems. In case you want different results in terms of current and voltage from the system, you will simply need to change the discrete components that are used.
Enhanced reliability in power electronics
Reliability is all about the ability of a system to always deliver the best results over a long period of time, even when the conditions seem unfavorable. Discrete semiconductors have enhanced the reliability of power electronics in many different ways.
One way of enhancing reliability is by controlling the supply of voltage in the power electronics. By doing so, they prevent incidences of overvoltage and even overcurrent hence protecting critical components from various forms of electrical damage.
The ability to withstand high temperatures and other harsh conditions is another way in which semiconductors contribute to the reliability of power electronics.
Improved energy efficiency
One of the goals of power electronics is to improve the levels of energy efficiency. Here, the systems should minimize the loss of energy at all stages of the power cycle. For example, transmission of electricity from the source could lead to energy loss in the form of heat. Discrete semiconductor components are incorporated into power electronics so as to achieve the best levels of energy efficiency.
There are various ways in which discrete semiconductors have proven to be cost-effective when they are implemented in power electronics. One of the ways is when building a power electronic system and you need to add individual features. It is easier to achieve this using discrete components than integrated circuits. Also, by enhancing reliability and efficiency, discrete ways reduce the cost of running and maintaining power electronics.
As the demand for electric energy has been going up, so has the need for power electronics. Power generation, power transmission, power processing, and even power storage are all the vital elements that make up a complete power electronics system.
As we have seen, discrete semiconductors play vital roles in all these key aspects of power electronics. They have a direct impact on the efficiency and reliability of power electronics.
Are you building a power electronics system? You should consider incorporating high-quality discrete semiconductors. Other than the technical parameters, you should also confirm the quality of the components. Where you buy discrete semiconductor components will determine the quality that you will get. Ensure that you buy from reputable global brands of discrete semiconductors. This is where the importance of electronic components sourcing agents comes in. They will help you get from the best discrete semiconductor manufacturers and suppliers.
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