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Application of IGBT and IGBT Application Examples

Aug 15, 2023      View: 1694

application of igbt

Since the beginning of industrial application in the late 1980s, IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) has experienced rapid development. It not only replaces devices such as MOS and GTR in industrial applications, but also gradually replaces the widespread use of power devices such as BJT and MOS in consumer electronics applications, and even has a place in the high-power field originally dominated by SCR and GTO. As a representative of new power semiconductor devices, IGBT is a typical product of the third power electronics technology revolution widely recognized internationally. 


IGBT has been widely used in traditional industries such as industry, communication, computer, consumer electronics, automotive electronics, aerospace, national defense and military industry, and is also used in rail transit, new energy, smart grid, new energy vehicles and other strategic emerging industries have been applied. Around the wide application of IGBT, this paper mainly focuses on its application in the fields of new energy vehicles, smart grid and rail transit.


Application of IGBT

New Energy Vehicles

IGBT plays a core technical role in equipment such as electric vehicles and charging piles. In electric vehicles, IGBTs are mainly used in electric control systems to drive high-power DC/AC inverter motors. In addition, it is also used as a switching element in vehicle air conditioning control systems and smart charging piles.


IGBT accounts for about half of the cost ratio in the motor drive system, which is not only reflected in the motor drive, but also extends to the fields of new energy power generation and air conditioning. Taking Tesla Model 3 as an example, its power source comes from a battery pack loaded with 7,000 18650 batteries. These batteries weighing 900 kg provide 400-volt direct current for the 85kWh battery pack. However, the motor of a Tesla electric vehicle needs to be driven by alternating current, and the speed and acceleration performance of the vehicle can be precisely adjusted by adjusting the frequency of the alternating current of the motor to control the rotational speed. The Tesla electric car is able to accelerate to 100 km/h in just 3 seconds, thanks to the fast start-up speed of the AC motor, in which the IGBT plays a key role.


Charging piles draw electricity from the standard 220-volt AC grid, whereas the batteries in Tesla electric vehicles require direct current to charge. This requires IGBTs to convert alternating current to direct current and boost the voltage to the 400 volts required by electric vehicles to meet the charging needs of 7,000 18650 batteries. The performance of IGBT directly affects the charging efficiency and speed of electric vehicles. The charging process of Tesla electric vehicles, as well as its high efficiency and fast charging capabilities, are closely related to IGBTs.


In the on state, the IGBT can withstand tens to hundreds of amperes of current; in the off state, it can withstand the voltage of hundreds to thousands of volts. In addition, under extremely high current and voltage conditions, the IGBT also exhibits an excellent switching speed of up to 10,000 times per second. Therefore, the quality of IGBT directly determines the acceleration performance, maximum speed, energy consumption level of electric vehicles, and whether they can achieve core characteristics such as second-level start, smooth shifting and stable parking. Therefore, it is appropriate to call IGBT the heart of electric vehicles.


Smart Grid



The power generation end, transmission end, transformation end and power consumption end of the smart grid all need to use IGBT. The application of IGBT in the field of smart grid is very extensive, covering many key links, and providing important support for the efficient operation and energy management of the power system.



In the smart grid, wind power generation and photovoltaic power generation are important sources of renewable energy, and the AC power they generate needs to be converted into DC or AC power through rectifiers and inverters in order to integrate with the power system. These conversion processes require IGBTs to achieve efficient power conversion and ensure stable energy injection into the grid.


Transmission end

Ultra-high voltage direct current (UHVDC) technology plays a key role in the smart grid, which can transmit electric energy from long distances to different regions and reduce transmission loss. In UHVDC systems, flexible alternating current transmission technology (FACTS) requires extensive use of IGBTs to achieve precise control of power flow to maintain the stability and reliability of the power system.



Power electronic transformers are an important part of smart grids, used to realize the transformation and distribution of electric energy. At the substation end, IGBT is used as a key device to control the transformation of electric energy, so that the grid can adjust the voltage and frequency as needed to adapt to different power transmission and distribution needs.


Power end

The power consumers in the smart grid include household, commercial and industrial electricity, etc. Household white goods such as air conditioners, washing machines, etc., microwave ovens, LED lighting drivers and other consumer appliances require efficient energy conversion and control. At this time, IGBT plays a key role. Through the precise control of the IGBT, the efficient use of electric energy and energy saving can be realized.


In modern rail transit, AC drive technology is one of the cores, and traction converter is a key component, and IGBT plays an important role in it. As the core device of traction converter, IGBT is widely used in traction converter and auxiliary converter of rail transit vehicles.


In addition, IGBTs are also widely used in other fields, such as power supply applications, UPS systems, electric vehicle motor drives, inverters, solar inverters, etc. Compared with BJT, it has advantages such as lower switching loss and smaller snubber circuit requirements, making it exhibit strong performance and potential in various applications.


IGBT Circuit Examples

Motor Drive Circuit

In inverter circuits, IGBTs are widely used as switching elements to realize the conversion process from DC to AC. This conversion technique is used in motor drives of all sizes. Especially in home appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, industrial motors, and automotive main motor controllers, IGBTs for inverter applications play an important role in order to improve the efficiency level of these systems.


UPS Circuit

Contributing to high efficiency and space-saving, IGBTs find their application primarily in middle- to large-capacity models, encompassing those with capacities of several kVA or even higher.


Induction Cooktop

Induction heating techniques aim to minimize switching losses by utilizing LC resonance to achieve zero-voltage switching (ZVS) or zero-current switching (ZCS). In view of the relatively high resonant voltage or current, IGBTs are usually chosen for application. More specifically, IGBTs are often used in induction heating systems, such as induction cookers, induction cookers, and microwave ovens.


What are IGBT

An IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) is a device that combines a MOSFET (input) and a PNP transistor (output). It combines the advantages of low driving power and fast switching speed (control and response) of MOSFET devices, and the characteristics of low saturation voltage and large capacity of bipolar devices (durable power stage). Its frequency characteristic is between MOSFET and power transistor, and it can work normally in the frequency range of tens of kHz.


How Does an IGBT Work

IGBT is a kind of power transistor, which is mainly used in inverter inverter and other inverter circuits to invert DC voltage into AC with adjustable frequency. Its working principle is based on switching operation by continuously activating and deactivating its gate terminal.


What is the Advantage of IGBT

Possesses higher voltage and current handling capabilities.

Extremely high input impedance.

Can switch very high currents with very low voltage.

Voltage-controlled device, meaning it has no input current and low input loss.

Features a simple and cost-effective gate drive circuit, reducing gate drive requirements.

Can be easily turned on by applying a positive voltage and turned off by applying zero or slightly negative voltage.

Exhibits very low on-state resistance.

Offers high current density, allowing for smaller chip sizes.

Yields higher power gain compared to BJT and MOS transistors.

Higher switching speed compared to BJT.

Enables switching high current levels with low control voltage.

Bipolar nature enhances conduction.

Read more: What is the Advantage of IGBT

Is IGBT faster than MOSFET

Generally, MOSFETs are generally faster in switching speed due to their unipolar transistor behavior, while IGBTs are slower but are able to handle higher voltage and current levels. IGBTs (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors) and MOSFETs (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors) have different switching characteristics, and whether one is faster than the other depends on the application.


Read More:

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