Power Semiconductor Properties, Usage, and History

Power Semiconductors

Power semiconductors, integrated circuits, or IC’s are all the same thing. IC’s are semiconductors on steroids! They have similar components to semiconductors, and carry a larger amount of currents. Power semiconductors use a power diode, MOSFET, BJT, and IGBT. MOSFET stands for metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor. This is how the semiconductor receives its power. BJT stands for bipolar junction transistor. It can lowers saturation voltages over low operating temperature ranges. IGBT stands for Insulated-gate Bipolar Transistor. IGBT combines both BJT and MOSFET.


In order to cool power units, they depend upon a medium to transfer heat during the cooling process. Air-cooling is most common. The advantages of air cooling are availability, ability to insulate, and have a non-corrosive nature. Forced air cooling is another method. This uses a motor and pump system to increase the velocity of air. It has better cooling affects that regular air cooling.

Liquid cooling is a way to cool power semiconductors via water, or by a water glycol mix. The advantage of this type of cooling is increasing the thermal efficiency of cooling by 15-20%. Liquid cooling systems have a minimum amount of maintenance, and produce little to zero noise. Spray cooling allows for fluid to spray on the chip directly. This creates a vaporizing affect that quickly cools the chip.

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