Gate Driver Circuits With Discrete Components For GaN-based Multi-Level Multi-Inductor Hybrid Converter
Gate driver circuits to ensure proper turn-on and turn-off for power switches are essential parts of a power converter design. They become even more important for multilevel converters where multiple switches are operated at active voltage domains. Recent favorable use of Gallium-Nitride (GaN) devices for power switches makes gate driving even more challenging as the switch performance and reliability are more sensitive to variations of the gate driving signals and power compared with traditional power MOSFETs. This paper discusses gate driving methods using a multi-level multi-inductor hybrid (MIH) converter as the demonstration prototype to address two key challenges in designing gate drivers: 1) providing level-shifted PWM signals to active voltage domains and 2) powering schemes for gate driver circuits. To solve the first challenge, an optimal use of available half-bridge drivers is devised to eliminate the need for separate signal isolator chips. This method was implemented and verified in a MIH converter prototype for 48-V Point-of-Load (PoL) applications using three different powering schemes for gate drivers, including isolated power modules, regulated supplies from switch blocking voltages, and cascaded bootstrap power rails with regulations. The gate driver techniques and powering schemes are compared experimentally in terms of performance to illustrate their benefits and trade-offs.