Power Electronics in Italy—Emerging Electronic Power Technologies and Electronic Devices in the Industrial 4.0 Era

A special issue of Electronics (ISSN 2079-9292). This special issue belongs to the section "Power Electronics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2024 | Viewed by 16056

Special Issue Editors


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Institute for High Performance Computing and Networking, National Research Council, 90146 Palermo, Italy
Interests: power electronics; renewable energy sources; electromagnetic compatibility; electric vehicles; storage systems; artificial intelligence applications
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Department of Information Engineering, Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy, Mediterranea University of Reggio Calabria, Via Salita Melissari, 89124 Reggio Calabria, Italy
Interests: power electronics; wide-bandgap semiconductors; energy systems; semiconductor device modelling; device physics; TCAD simulations
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Physics Department, University of Salerno, via Giovanni Paolo II, 132, 84084 Fisciano, Salerno, Italy
Interests: 2D materials (graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides); 1D materials (nanowires and nanotubes); field effect transistors; van der Waals heterojunctions; Schottky junctions; photodetectors; non-volatile memories; field emission
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor

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Guest Editor
Department of Astronautical, Elecritical and Energetics Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, 18, 00184 Rome, Italy
Interests: railways; electric vehicles; power quality; power systems
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Novel designs and modelling approaches for current and future electronic devices and power technologies are topics of great interest according to the goals of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. These research fields are increasingly leading to the development of complex and intelligent systems to be used in real-world applications and allowing, for example, improved levels of automation, digitalization, and miniaturization. In addition, they have a significant impacts on electronics, advanced manufacturing, transportation, and logistics within the industry. However, Industry 4.0 is still in a conceptual stage, and several technological problems and requirements common to different types of systems need to be addressed in practice.

The aim of this Italian Special Issue is to collect research papers dealing with emerging electronic power technologies and electronic devices useful in the presented scenario. The topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Electronic sensors;
  • Field effect transistors;
  • Power switch converters;
  • Power optimizers;
  • Energy harvesting;
  • Digital devices;
  • Robotics.

Prof. Dr. Gianpaolo Vitale
Dr. Fortunato Pezzimenti
Prof. Dr. Antonio Di Bartolomeo
Dr. Davide Astolfi
Dr. Alessandro Ruvio
Guest Editors

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • electronic devices
  • power electronics
  • robotics
  • internet of things
  • energy harvesting

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

22 pages, 3282 KiB  
Article
Innovative Fault Current Evaluation Method for Active DC Grids
by Julian Valbuena Godoy, Simone Negri, Francesca Oliva, Antonello Antoniazzi and Roberto Sebastiano Faranda
Electronics 2024, 13(5), 847; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics13050847 - 22 Feb 2024
Viewed by 405
Abstract
DC smart grids are a promising solution for the efficient integration of renewable energy sources and loads. Still, their widespread adoption is hindered by significant challenges related to fault response, identification, and clearance. The traditional DC fault analysis method is a useful tool [...] Read more.
DC smart grids are a promising solution for the efficient integration of renewable energy sources and loads. Still, their widespread adoption is hindered by significant challenges related to fault response, identification, and clearance. The traditional DC fault analysis method is a useful tool for straightforwardly understanding the behaviour of fault current contributions from DC converters in LVDC networks during a fault. However, when a system with multiple converters and non-negligible fault impedance need to be considered, its accuracy is severely limited due to the assumptions included in the problem solution, thus leading to the following: (a) the dependency of the results’ reliability on fault impedance values and/or other converter fault current contributions; (b) the inaccuracy of the diode current estimation; and (c) the inaccuracy of the conductor joule integral. Thus, these results’ data may be unreliable for designing protection systems for one converter or for an entire network. In order to overcome these issues, this paper proposes an innovative, simple numerical approach to DC fault current evaluation, which can be adopted when the number of converters become significant, or the network is complex. This method arises from the primary interest in solving the circuit to extract the indicators (current peak value and time, joule integral, etc.) necessary for designing circuit protections. This approach proved to grant two main advantages over traditional methods: (a) it provides accurate results, with no need to introduce any specific assumption; (b) it can be structured to manage an arbitrary number of converters; and (c) it reduces the computational processing times and resources necessary to simulate an entire DC network in comparison to other circuit solution software. Full article
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29 pages, 23881 KiB  
Article
The GaN Breakthrough for Sustainable and Cost-Effective Mobility Electrification and Digitalization
by Filippo Scrimizzi, Federica Cammarata, Giuseppe D’Agata, Gabriele Nicolosi, Salvatore Musumeci and Santi Agatino Rizzo
Electronics 2023, 12(6), 1436; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics12061436 - 17 Mar 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2392
Abstract
Vehicle electrification and digitalization are even more and more increasingly pushed by several aims, such as the improvement in sustainability, wellness, safety, and reliability. The need for onboard power electronics is a common factor for the different types of electric vehicles. Similarly, the [...] Read more.
Vehicle electrification and digitalization are even more and more increasingly pushed by several aims, such as the improvement in sustainability, wellness, safety, and reliability. The need for onboard power electronics is a common factor for the different types of electric vehicles. Similarly, the increasing presence of onboard Internet of Things items as well as systems implementing artificial intelligence asks for additional power electronics that ensure supplying them according to their rating plate. Additionally, power converters have to perform this task also for traditional loads (infotainment; climate control, and so on) and new ones (USB and wireless chargers; Light detection and ranging, LiDAR applications, and so on). The transaction towards full electrification and digitalization requires highly efficient and compact power electronics converters. In this perspective, the Gallium nitride (GaN) high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) are the best enabler device technology. This paper analyses the current and prospective improvement in sustainability and cost achievable with GaN in the automotive sector. Then, the advantages of the system in package GaN devices in power converter supporting this transaction, such as 48 V–12 V converters, onboard charges, and cell phone wireless chargers are experimentally investigated. The results have highlighted that, already in 2023, the use of Si devices in these applications does not enable further a lower overall converter cost with respect to GaN-based solutions. The reduction of passive costs enabled by using higher frequency thanks to the GaN features compensates for its higher cost. On the other hand, GaN HEMT enables high efficiency in all the aforesaid automotive applications as also experimentally proved in this paper, making it the best solution in terms of sustainability. Full article
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19 pages, 28959 KiB  
Article
Design of a 7.5 kW Dual Active Bridge Converter in 650 V GaN Technology for Charging Applications
by Alessio Alemanno, Riccardo Morici, Miguel Pretelli and Corrado Florian
Electronics 2023, 12(6), 1280; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics12061280 - 07 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3516
Abstract
High-voltage GaN switches offer low conduction and commutation losses compared with their Si counterparts, enabling the development of high-efficiency switching-mode DC–DC converters with increased switching frequency, faster dynamics, and more compact dimensions. Nonetheless, the potential of GaN switches can be fully exploited only [...] Read more.
High-voltage GaN switches offer low conduction and commutation losses compared with their Si counterparts, enabling the development of high-efficiency switching-mode DC–DC converters with increased switching frequency, faster dynamics, and more compact dimensions. Nonetheless, the potential of GaN switches can be fully exploited only by means of accurate simulations, optimal switch driving, suitable converter topology, accurate component selection, PCB layout optimization, and fast digital converter control. This paper describes the detailed design, simulation, and implementation of an air-cooled, 7.5 kW, dual active bridge converter exploiting commercial 650 V GaN switches, a compact planar transformer, and low ESL/ESR metal film capacitors. The isolated bidirectional converter operates at a 200 kHz switching frequency, with an output voltage range of 200–500 V at nominal 400 V input voltage, and a maximum output current of 28 A, with a wide full-power ZVS region. The overall efficiency at full power is 98.2%. This converter was developed in particular for battery charging applications, when bidirectional power flow is required. Full article
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17 pages, 2805 KiB  
Article
Modular Battery Emulator for Development and Functional Testing of Battery Management Systems: Hardware Design and Characterization
by Alessandro Verani, Roberto Di Rienzo, Niccolò Nicodemo, Federico Baronti, Roberto Roncella and Roberto Saletti
Electronics 2023, 12(5), 1232; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics12051232 - 04 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1855
Abstract
Battery Management Systems are essential for safe and effective use of Lithium-Ion batteries. The increasing complexity of the control and estimation algorithms requires deeper functional testing and validation phases of BMSs. However, the use of real batteries in such phases leads to hazards [...] Read more.
Battery Management Systems are essential for safe and effective use of Lithium-Ion batteries. The increasing complexity of the control and estimation algorithms requires deeper functional testing and validation phases of BMSs. However, the use of real batteries in such phases leads to hazards and safety risks. Battery emulators and the Hardware-in-the-Loop approach can instead speed-up and increase the safety of the functional testing and algorithm validation phases. This work describes the design and the characterization of a low-cost modular multi-cell battery emulator which provides a complete emulation of cell voltage, temperature, and current. This platform can be used to carry out Hardware-in-the-Loop tests on custom and commercial Battery Management Systems. The paper describes the platform design constraints derived from the most diffused Battery Management System architectures, the main design and implementation choices, and the platform characterization results. The proposed emulation platform is compared with literature and commercial ones showing a very good trade-off between performance and cost. This characteristic makes it appealing for small-size laboratories that develop and test Battery Management Systems. The project has therefore been made available to the scientific community as a freely downloadable open hardware platform. Full article
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12 pages, 3896 KiB  
Article
A Reconfigurable Setup for the On-Wafer Characterization of the Dynamic RON of 600 V GaN Switches at Variable Operating Regimes
by Alessio Alemanno, Alberto Maria Angelotti, Gian Piero Gibiino, Alberto Santarelli, Enrico Sangiorgi and Corrado Florian
Electronics 2023, 12(4), 1063; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics12041063 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1215
Abstract
Charge-trapping mechanisms observed in high-voltage GaN switches are responsible for the degradation of power converter efficiency due to modulation of the effective dynamic ON-resistance (RON) with respect to its static value. Dynamic RON degradation is typically dependent [...] Read more.
Charge-trapping mechanisms observed in high-voltage GaN switches are responsible for the degradation of power converter efficiency due to modulation of the effective dynamic ON-resistance (RON) with respect to its static value. Dynamic RON degradation is typically dependent on the blocking voltage and the commutation frequency and is particularly significant in new technologies under development. The possibility to characterize this phenomenon on GaN switch samples directly on-wafer, under controlled operating conditions that resemble real operations of the DUT in a switching mode power converter is extremely valuable in the development phase of new technologies or for quality verification of production wafers. In this paper, we describe a setup that allows this characterization: dynamic RON degradation of on-wafer 600 V GaN switches is characterized as a function of the VDS blocking voltage, the VGS driving voltage, and at different temperatures. The dependency on the switching frequency is identified by measuring the current recovery of the switch after the application of blocking voltages of different durations. Full article
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11 pages, 5181 KiB  
Article
Characterization of the Dynamic RON of 600 V GaN Switches under Operating Conditions
by Alessio Alemanno, Alberto Santarelli, Enrico Sangiorgi and Corrado Florian
Electronics 2023, 12(4), 943; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics12040943 - 13 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1694
Abstract
High-voltage GaN switches can offer tremendous advantages over silicon counterparts for the development of high-efficiency switching-mode power converters at high commutation frequency. Nonetheless, GaN devices are prone to charge-trapping effects that can be particularly relevant in the early-stage development of new technologies. Charge-trapping [...] Read more.
High-voltage GaN switches can offer tremendous advantages over silicon counterparts for the development of high-efficiency switching-mode power converters at high commutation frequency. Nonetheless, GaN devices are prone to charge-trapping effects that can be particularly relevant in the early-stage development of new technologies. Charge-trapping mechanisms are responsible for the degradation of the dynamic ON-resistance (RON) with respect to its static value: this degradation is typically dependent on the blocking voltage, the commutation frequency and temperature, and is responsible for the reduction of power converter efficiency. The characterization of this phenomenon is very valuable for the development of a new process to compare different technological solutions or for the final assessment of performance. This characterization cannot be made with traditional static or small signal measurements since RON degradation is triggered by application-like dynamic device excitations. In this paper, we propose a technique for the characterization of the dynamic RON of high-voltage GaN switches under real operating conditions: this technique is based on the design of a half bridge switching leg in which the DUT is operated under conditions that resemble its operation in a power converter. With this setup, the characterization of a 600 V GaN switch dynamic RON is performed as a function of variable blocking voltages and commutation frequency. Additionally, this technique allows the separation of thermal and trapping effects, enabling the characterization of the dynamic RON at different temperatures. Full article
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14 pages, 1262 KiB  
Article
Modelling and Simulation of Quasi-Resonant Inverter for Induction Heating under Variable Load
by Enrico Spateri, Fredy Ruiz and Giambattista Gruosso
Electronics 2023, 12(3), 753; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics12030753 - 02 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1928
Abstract
Single-switch quasi-resonant DC inverters are preferred in low-power induction-heating applications for their cheapness. However, they pose difficulties in enforcing soft-switching and show limited controllability. A good design of these converters must proceed in parallel with the characterization of the load and the operating [...] Read more.
Single-switch quasi-resonant DC inverters are preferred in low-power induction-heating applications for their cheapness. However, they pose difficulties in enforcing soft-switching and show limited controllability. A good design of these converters must proceed in parallel with the characterization of the load and the operating conditions. The control of the switching frequency has a critical relationship to the non-linear behavior of the load due to electro-thermal coupling and geometrical anisotropies. Finite element methods enable the analysis of this kind of multiphysics coupled systems, but the simulation of transient dynamics is computationally expensive. The goal of this article is to propose a time-domain simulation strategy to analyze the behavior of induction heating systems with a quasi-resonant single-ended DC inverter using pulse frequency modulation and variable load. The load behavior is estimated through frequency stationary analysis and integrated into the time-domain simulations as a non-linear equivalent impedance parametrized by look-up tables. The model considers variations in temperature dynamics, the presence of work-piece anisotropies, and current harmonic waveforms. The power regulation strategy based on the control of the switch turn-on time is tested in a case study with varying load and it is shown that it is able to maintain the converter in the safe operation region, handling variations up to of 22% in the equivalent load resistance. Full article
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17 pages, 5194 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Current for a Non-Linear Power Inductor Including Temperature in DC-DC Converters
by Daniele Scirè, Giuseppe Lullo and Gianpaolo Vitale
Electronics 2023, 12(3), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics12030579 - 24 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1707
Abstract
A method for estimating the current flowing through a non-linear power inductor operating in a DC/DC converter is proposed. The knowledge of such current, that cannot be calculated in closed form as for the linear inductor, is crucial for the design of the [...] Read more.
A method for estimating the current flowing through a non-linear power inductor operating in a DC/DC converter is proposed. The knowledge of such current, that cannot be calculated in closed form as for the linear inductor, is crucial for the design of the converter. The proposed method is based on a third-order polynomial model of the inductor, already developed by the authors; it is exploited to solve the differential equation of the inductor and to implement a flux model in a circuit simulator. The method allows the estimation of the current up to saturation, intended as the point at which the differential inductance is reduced to half of its maximum value. The current profile depends also on the inductor temperature. Based on this, the influence of core temperature on the conduction time of the power switch was determined. This study shows that the exploitation of saturation requires a proper value of the conduction time value that depends on the temperature. The theoretical analysis has been experimentally verified on a boost converter and is valid for the entire class of DC-DC converters in which the power inductor is subjected to a constant voltage for a given time. The simulations agree with the experimental data from a case study concerning conduction time and temperature. Full article
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