Power Electronics

The first electronics revolution began in 1948 with the invention of the silicon transistor at Bell  telephone Laboratories by Bardeen, Bratain, and Schockley. Most of today’s advanced electronic technologies are traceable to that invention, and modern microelectronics has evolved over the years from these silicon semiconductors.

The second electronics revolution began with the development of a commercial thyristor by the General Electric Company in 1958. That was the beginning of a new era of power electronics. Since then, many different types of power semiconductor devices and conversion techniques have been introduced. The demand for energy, particularly in electrical forms, is ever-increasing in order to improve the standard of living.

Power electronics has already found an important place in modern technology and has revolutionized control of power and energy. As the voltage and current ratings and switching characteristics of power semiconductor devices keep improving, the range of applications continues to expand in areas such as lamp controls, power supplies to motion control, factory automation, transportation, energy storage, multimegawatt industrial drives, and electric power transmission and distribution. Applications in power transmission include high-voltage dc (VHDC) converter stations, flexible ac transmission system (FACTS), and static-var compensators. In power distribution these include dc-to-ac conversion, dynamic filters, frequency conversion, and Custom Power System.

The history of power electronics has been closely allied with advances in electronic devices that provide the capability to handle high-power levels. Only in the past decade has a transition been made from a ‘‘device-driven’’ field to an ‘‘applications-driven’’ field. This transition has been based on two factors: advanced semiconductors with suitable power ratings exist for almost every application of wide interest; and the general push toward miniaturization is bringing advanced power electronics into a growing variety of products, solutions and applications.

All power electronic circuits manage the flow of electrical energy between some sort of source and a load. The parts in a circuit must direct electrical flows, not impede them. If the energy source is Reliable, it is on all the time. The technology is a critical part of our energy infrastructure, and supports almost all important electrical applications. For power electronics design, we consider only those circuits and devices that in principle introduce no loss and can achieve reliability

DEFINITION: Power electronics is the study of electronic circuits for the control and conversion of electrical energy. These circuits handle power flow at levels much higher than the individual device ratings.

energy@empasys.net

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