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Draw the structural diagram of GTO. Explain briefly the switching behavior of GTO with the help of appropriate voltage and current waveform.

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Gate Turn Off Thyristor (GTO)

• Conventional Thyristor can be turned on with gate terminal but can not turn off from gate terminal.
• But in case of Gate Turn Off Thyristor (GTO), we can turn it on and off from its gate terminal.
• By giving positive signal GTO can be turned on and by giving negative signal it can be turned off.
•GTO is used for the chopper and PWM inverter applications.
•GTO is a three-terminal device.
•Basically, it has four layers PNPN.
• GTO has high voltage blocking capability and high overcurrent capability.
•In on state GTO operate like conventional thyristor.
• GTO turn off occur by removal of excess holes in cathode base region by reversing the current through gate terminal.
•Stopping the current through the gate can turn off GTO.

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Switching behavior of GTO :

The figure shows the basic gate drive circuit for GTO. GTO required positive gate pulse to turn on, this positive gate pulse is applied using the gate drive circuit. The transistor TR! is turn on which turn on the transistor TR2 and TR2 provide the positive gate pulse to GTO. The thyristor can be turned off by the negative gate pulse, this negative gate pulse is supplied by gating thyristor T1, which provides the negative gate pulse to GTO and turned it off. Higher the forward gate current smaller the turning on time. When the anode current is more than latching current we may remove the gate drive. The figure shows the switching characteristics of GTO. In switching characteristics of GTO the Tq is the total turn off time. Tq is subdivided as storage period (Ts), fall period (Tp) and tail period (Tt).

image

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Gate Turn Off Thyristor (GTO) 

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Module

1

Power Semiconductor

Devices

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 1

Lesson

5

Gate Turn Off Thyristor

(GTO)

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 2

Instructional objective

On completion the student will be able to

• Differentiate between the constructional features of a GTO and a Thyristor.

• Explain the turn off mechanism of a GTO.

• Differentiate between the steady state output and gate characteristics of a GTO and a

thyristor.

• Draw and explain the switching characteristics of a GTO.

• Draw the block diagram of a GTO gate drive unit and explain the functions of different

blocks.

• Interpret the manufacturer’s data sheet of a GTO.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 3

Introduction

The thyristor has reigned supreme for well over two decades in the power electronics industry

and continues to do so at the very highest level of power. It, however, has always suffered from

the disadvantage of being a semi-controlled device. Although it could be turned on by applying a

gate pulse but to turn it off the main current had to be interrupted. This proved to be particularly

inconvenient in DC to AC and DC to DC conversion circuits, where the main current does not

naturally becomes zero. A bulky and expensive “commutation circuit” had to be used to ensure

proper turning off of the thyristor. The switching speed of the device was also comparatively

slow even with fast inverter grade thyristor. The development of the Gate Turn off thyristor

(GTO) has addressed these disadvantages of a thyristor to a large extent. Although it has made a

rather late entry (1973) into the thyristor family the technology has matured quickly to produce

device comparable in rating (5000V, 4000Amp) with the largest available thyristor.

Consequently it has replaced the forced commutated inverter grade thyristor in all DC to AC and

DC to DC converter circuits.

Like thyristor, the GTO is a current controlled minority carrier (i.e. bipolar) device. GTOs differ

from conventional thyristor in that, they are designed to turn off when a negative current is sent

through the gate, thereby causing a reversal of the gate current. A relatively high gate current is

need to turn off the device with typical turn off gains in the range of 4-5. During conduction, on

the other hand, the device behaves just like a thyristor with very low ON state voltage drop.

Several different varieties of GTOs have been manufactured. Devices with reverse blocking

capability equal to their forward voltage ratings are called “symmetric GTOs”. However, the

most poplar variety of the GTO available in the market today has no appreciable reverse voltage

(20-25v) blocking capacity. These are called “Asymmetric GTOs”. Reverse conducting GTOs

(RC-GTO) constitute the third family of GTOs. Here, a GTO is integrated with an anti-parallel

freewheeling diode on to the same silicon wafer. This lesson will describe the construction,

operating principle and characteristic of “Asymmetric GTOs” only.

5.2 Constructional Features of a GTO

Fig 5.1 shows the circuit symbol and two different schematic cross section of a GTO.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 4

A

G

K

(a)

Fig. 5.1: Circuit symbol and schematic cross section of a GTO

 (a) Circuit Symbol, (b) Anode shorted GTO structure,

 (c) Buffer layer GTO structure.

Anode

Short.

p+

n

p

n+ n+

C

G

(b)

p+ p+

n

+

n+

(c)

Anode

Contact

np

n+ n+

C

G

p+

n

Buffer

Layer

J1

J2

J3

Like a thyristor, a GTO is also a four layer three junction p-n-p-n device. In order to obtain high

emitter efficiency at the cathode end, the n+

 cathode layer is highly doped. Consequently, the

break down voltage of the function J3 is low (typically 20-40V). The p type gate region has

conflicting doping requirement. To maintain good emitter efficiency the doping level of this

layer should be low, on the other hand, from the point of view of good turn off properties,

resistively of this layer should be as low as possible requiring the doping level of this region to

be high. Therefore, the doping level of this layer is highly graded. Additionally, in order to

optimize current turn off capability, the gate cathode junction must be highly interdigitated. A

3000 Amp GTO may be composed of upto 3000 individual cathode segments which are a

accessed via a common contact. The most popular design features multiple segments arranged in

concentric rings around the device center.

The maximum forward blocking voltage of the device is determined by the doping level and the

thickness of the n type base region next. In order to block several kv of forward voltage the

doping level of this layer is kept relatively low while its thickness is made considerably higher (a

few hundred microns). Byond the maximum allowable forward voltage either the electric field at

the main junction (J2) exceeds a critical value (avalanche break down) or the n base fully

depletes, allowing its electric field to touch the anode emitter (punch through).

The junction between the n base and p+ anode (J1) is called the “anode junction”. For good turn

on properties the efficiency of this anode junction should be as high as possible requiring a

heavily doped p+ anode region. However, turn off capability of such a GTO will be poor with

very low maximum turn off current and high losses. There are two basic approaches to solve this

problem.

In the first method, heavily doped n+ layers are introduced into the p+ anode layer. They make

contact with the same anode metallic contact. Therefore, electrons traveling through the base can

directly reach the anode metal contact without causing hole injection from the p+ anode. This is

the classic “anode shorted GTO structure” as shown in Fig 5.1 (b). Due to presence of these

“anode shorts” the reverse voltage blocking capacity of GTO reduces to the reverse break down

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 5

voltage of junction J3 (20-40 volts maximum). In addition a large number of “anode shorts”

reduces the efficiency of the anode junction and degrades the turn on performance of the device.

Therefore, the density of the “anode shorts” are to be chosen by a careful compromise between

the turn on and turn off performance.

In the other method, a moderately doped n type buffer layer is juxtaposed between the n-

 type

base and the anode. As in the case of a power diode and BJT this relatively high density buffer

layer changes the shape of the electric field pattern in the n-

 base region from triangular to

trapezoidal and in the process, helps to reduce its width drastically. However, this buffer layer in

a conventional “anode shorted” GTO structure would have increased the efficiency of the anode

shorts. Therefore, in the new structure the anode shorts are altogether dispensed with and a thin

p+ type layer is introduce as the anode. The design of this layer is such that electrons have a high

probability of crossing this layer without stimulating hole injection. This is called the

“Transparent emitter structure” and is shown in Fig 5.1 (c).
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Exercise 5.1

Fill in the blank(s) with the appropriate word(s)

i. A GTO is a _______________ controlled _______________ carrier device.

ii. A GTO has _______________ layers and _______________ terminals.

iii. A GTO can be turned on by injecting a _______________ gate current and turned off by

injecting a _______________ gate current.

iv. The anode shorts of a GTO improves the _______________ performance but degrades

the _______________ performance.

v. The reverse voltage blocking capacity of a GTO is small due to the presence of

_______________.

Answer: (i) current, minority; (ii) four, three; (iii) positive, negative; (iv) turn off, turn on; (v)

anode shorts.

5.3 Operating principle of a GTO

GTO being a monolithic p-n-p-n structure just like a thryistor its basic operating principle can be

explained in a manner similar to that of a thyristor. In particular, the p-n-p-n structure of a GTO

can be though of consisting of one p-n-p and one n-p-n transistor connected in the regenerative

configuration as shown in Fig 5.2.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 6

Hole current

Electron

current

A

p

n

p

n

n

p

G C

(a)

A

αn G

C

αp

IK

IG

IA

iC2

iC1

iB

iB2 Hole current

Electron

current

A

p

n

p

n

n

p

C

(b)

G

p

n

p

G

A

Fig 5.2: Current distribution in a GTO

 (a) During turn on; (b) During turn off.

From the “two transistor analogy” (Fig 5.2 (a)) of the GTO structure one can write.

( )

( )

( )

C1 p A CBO1

B1 C 2 n k CBO2

k A G A B1 C1

i = I + I 5.1

i = i = I + I 5.2

I = I + I and I = i + i 5.3





( )

( ) ( ) n G CBO1 CBO2

A

n p

I + i +i

Combining I = 5.4

1- +



∝ ∝

With applied forward voltage VAK less than the forward break over voltage both ICBO1 and ICBO2

are small. Further if IG is zero IA is only slightly higher than (ICBO1 + ICBO2). Under this condition

both ∝n and ∝p are small and (∝p + ∝n) <<1. The device is said to be in the forward blocking

mode.

To turn the device on either the anode voltage can be raised until ICBO1 and ICBO2 increases by

avalanche multiplication process or by injecting a gate current. The current gain ∝ of silicon

transistors rises rapidly as the emitter current increases. Therefore, any mechanism which causes

a momentary increase in the emitter current can be used to turn on the device. Normally, this is

done by injecting current into the p base region via the external gate contract. As ∝n + ∝p

approaches unity the anode current tends to infinity. Physically as ∝n + ∝p nears unity the device

starts to regenerate and each transistor drives its companion into saturation. Once in saturation,

all junctions assume a forward bias and total potential drop across the device becomes

approximately equal to that of a single p-n diode. The anode current is restricted only by the

external circuit. Once the device has been turned on in this manner, the external gate current is

no longer required to maintain conduction, since the regeneration process is self-sustaining.

Reversion to the blocking mode occurs only when the anode current is brought below the

“holding current” level.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 7

To turn off a conducting GTO the gate terminal is biased negative with respect to the cathode.

The holes injected from the anode are, therefore, extracted from the p base through the gate

metallization into the gate terminal (Fig 5.2 (b)). The resultant voltage drop in the p base above

the n emitter starts reverse biasing the junction J3 and electron injection stops here. The process

originates at the periphery of the p base and the n emitter segments and the area still injecting

electron shrinks. The anode current is crowded into higher and higher density filaments in most

remote areas from the gate contact. This is the most critical phase in the GTO turn off process

since highly localized high temperature regions can cause device failure unless these current

filaments are quickly extinguished. When the last filament disappears, electron injection stops

completely and depletion layer starts to grow on both J2 and J3. At this point the device once

again starts blocking forward voltage. However, although the cathode current has ceased the

anode to gate current continues to flow (Fig 5.2 (b)) as the n base excess carriers diffuse towards

J1. This “tail current” then decays exponentially as the n base excess carriers reduce by

recombination. Once the tail current has completely disappeared does the device regain its steady

state blocking characteristics. “Anode Shorts” (or transparent emitter) helps reduce the tail

current faster by providing an alternate path to the n base electrons to reach the anode contact

without causing appreciable hole injection from anode.

Exercise 5.2

Fill in the blank(s) with the appropriate word(s)

i. After a GTO turns on the gate current can be _______________.

ii. A conducting GTO reverts back to the blocking mode when the anode current falls below

_______________ current.

iii. To turn off a conducting GTO the gate terminal is biased _______________ with respect

to the _______________.

iv. “Current filaments” produced during the turn off process of a GTO can destroy the device

by creating local _______________.

v. “Anode shorts” help to reduce the _______________ current in a GTO.

Answer: (i) removed; (ii) holding; (iii) negatively, cathode; (iv) hot spot; (v) tail.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 8

5.4 Steady state and dynamic characteristics of a GTO

5.4.1 Steady state output and gate characteristics

IG

vg

Min Max

(b)

Fig. 5.3: Steady state characteristics of a GTO

 (a) Output characteristics; (b) Gate characteristics.

VAK

IG

IA vg

+ -

VBRR

VBRF

VAK

IA

IL

IL

+

-

(a)

This characteristic in the first quadrant is very similar to that of a thyristor as shown in Fig. 5.3

(a). However, the latching current of a GTO is considerably higher than a thyristor of similar

rating. The forward leakage current is also considerably higher. In fact, if the gate current is not

sufficient to turn on a GTO it operates as a high voltage low gain transistor with considerable

anode current. It should be noted that a GTO can block rated forward voltage only when the gate

is negatively biased with respect to the cathode during forward blocking state. At least, a low

value resistance must be connected across the gate cathode terminal. Increasing the value of this

resistance reduces the forward blocking voltage of the GTO. Asymmetric GTOs have small (20-

30 V) reverse break down voltage. This may lead the device to operate in “reverse avalanche”

under certain conditions. This condition is not dangerous for the GTO provided the avalanche

time and current are small. The gate voltage during this period must remain negative.

Fig 5.3 (b) shows the gate characteristics of a GTO. The zone between the min and max curves

reflects parameter variation between individual GTOs. These characteristics are valid for DC and

low frequency AC gate currents. They do not give correct voltage when the GTO is turned on

with high dia

dt and G dI

dt . VG in this case is much higher.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 9
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5.4.2 Dynamic characteristics of a GTO

∫ ∫

∫ ∫

∫ ∫

∫ ∫

Fig. 5.4: Switching characteristics of a GTO.

iA, VAK

 VD

 0.9VD

 0.1VD

 Ig Vg

 td tr

 IGM

 tON

 VT

 IG

 IgQ

 QgQ

 VgR

 ttail

 Itail

 0.9IL

 0.1IL

 IL VDM

 VD

 tf

 ts

 t

 t

 dig/dt

gQ di

dt

 ig

 vg

 Vd

 RL

 IL

 di/dt

limiting

 L

di

dt

Fig 5.4 shows the switching characteristics of a GTO and refers to the resistive dc load switching

circuit shown on the right hand side. When the GTO is off the anode current is zero and VAK =

Vd. To turn on the GTO, a positive gate current pulse is injected through the gate terminal. A

substantial gate current ensure that all GTO cathode segments are turned on simultaneously and

within a short time. There is a delay between the application of the gate pulse and the fall of

anode voltage, called the turn on delay time td. After this time the anode voltage starts falling

while the anode current starts rising towards its steady value IL. Within a further time interval tr

they reach 10% of their initial value and 90% of their final value respectively. tr is called the

current rise time (voltage fall time). Both td and maximum permissible on state A di

dt are very

much gate current dependent. High value of I gM and dig

dt at turn on reduces these times and

increases maximum permissible on state A di

dt . It should be noted that large value of ig (IgM)

and dig

dt are required during td and tr only. After this time period both vg and ig settles down to

their steady value. A minimum ON time period tON (min) is required for homogeneous anode

current conduction in the GTO. This time is also necessary for the GTO to be able to turn off its

rated anode current.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 10

To turn off a GTO the gate terminal is negatively biased with respect to the cathode. With the

application of the negative bias the gate current starts growing in the negative direction.

However, the anode voltage,current or the gate voltage does not change appreciably from their

on state levels for a further time period called the storage time (ts). The storage time increases

with the turn off anode current and decrease with gQ di

dt . During storage time the load current at

the cathode end is gradually diverted to the gate terminal. At the end of the storage time gate

current reaches its negative maximum value IgQ. At this point both the junctions J2 & J3 of the

GTO starts blocking voltage. Consequently, both the gate cathode and the anode cathode voltage

starts rising towards their final value while the anode current starts decreasing towards zero. At

the end of current fall time “tf” the anode current reaches 10% of its initial value after which both

the anode current and the gate current continues to flow in the form of a current tail for a further

duration of ttail. A GTO is normally used with a R-C turn off snubber. Therefore, VAK does not

start to rise appreciably till tf. At this point VAK starts rising rapidly and exceeds the dc voltage

Vd (VdM) (due to resonance of snubber capacitor with di

dt limiting inductor) before setting

down at its steady value Vd . A GTO should not be retriggered within a minimum off period off

(min) to avoid the risk of failure due to localized turn ON. GTOs have typically low turn off gain

in the range of 4-5.

5.4.3 GTO gate drive circuit

A GTO gate drive has to fulfill the following functions.

• Turn the GTO on by means of a high current pulse (IGM)

• Maintain conduction through provision of a continuous gate current (IG, also known as

the “back-porch current”).

• Turn the GTO off with a high negative gate current pulse.

• Reinforce the blocking state of the device by a negative gate voltage.

A typical gate drive arrangement for a large power GTO is show in Fig 5.5.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 11

Fig. 5.5: Gate drive circuit of a GTO.

(a) Block diagram,

(b) Circuit diagram of the output stage

ON

OFF

R1 R2

R3

C2

T1

T2

A

K

G

+

+

+

-

- -

(b)

H.F.DC to

AC INV. H.F TXF

H.F. AC to DC

Rectifier

Output

Stage

Control Logic

Electrical

Optical

Fiber optic

cable

Optical - Electrical

Converter

A B C D

E

F

(a)

In the block diagram of Fig 5.5 (a) it is assumed that there is a potential difference of several kVs

between the master control and individual gate units.

The ON and OFF pulses for a GTO is communicated to individual gate units through fiber optic

cables. These optical signals are converted to electrical signals by a optical electrical converter.

These electrical signals through the control logic then produces the ON and OFF signal for the

out put stage which in turn sends positive and negative gate current to the GTO. Depending on

the requirement the control logic may also supervise GTO conduction by monitoring the gatecathode

voltage. Any fault is relayed back via fiber optic cable to the master control. Power

supply for the Gate drive units are derived from a common power supply through a high

frequency SMPS (Blocks A, B & C) arrangement.

Fig 5.5 (b) shows the circuit implementation of the output stage. The top switch T1 sends positive

gate pulse to the GTO gate. At the instant of turn on of T1 ,C2 acts almost as a short circuit and

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 12

the positive gate current is determined by the parallel combination of R1 and R2. However, at

steady state only R1 determines the gate current IG.

The bottom switch T2 is used for biasing the GTO gate negative with respect to the cathode.

Since, relatively large negative gate current flows during turn off, no external resistance is used

in series with T2. Instead, the ON state resistance of T2 is utilized for this purpose. In practice, a

large number of switches are connected in parallel to obtain the required current rating of T2. A

low value resistance R3 is connected between the gate and the cathode terminals of the GTO to

ensure minimum forward blocking voltage.

Exercise 5.3

Fill in the blank(s) with the appropriate word(s)

i. The _______________ current and forward _______________ current of a GTO are

considerably higher compared to a thyristor.

ii. If the gate current is insufficient a GTO can operate as a low gain _______________.

iii. Reverse blocking voltage of _______________ GTO is small.

iv. To ensure that all GTO cathode segments are turned on simultaneously the magnitude of

the _______________ current should be _______________.

v. High value of gate current and dig/dt enhances the _______________ capability of a

GTO during turn on.

vi. During storage time the load current in a GTO is diverted from the _______________ to

the _______________ terminal.

vii. GTOs have low turn off _______________ gain.

viii. After the current fall time during turn off of a GTO the anode current continuous for

some more time in the form of a _______________.

ix. The gate drive unit of a GTO should provide continuous positive gate _______________

during ON period and continuous negative gate _______________ during OFF period.

x. In the gate drive unit of a GTO a low value resistance is connected between the gate and

the cathode terminals to ensure minimum _______________ voltage.

Answer: (i) latching, leakage; (ii) transistor; (iii) asymmetric; (iv) gate, high; (v) di/dt;

 (vi) cathode, gate; (vii) current; (viii) current tail; (ix) current, voltage; (x)

 forward blocking.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 13

5.5 GTO Ratings

5.5.1 Steady state voltage and current rating

VDRM: It is the maximum repetitive forward voltage the GTO can block in the forward

direction assuming line frequency sinusoidal voltage waveform. It is important to note that GTO

can block rated voltage only if the gate is reverse biased or at least connected to the cathode

through a low value resistance. Manufactures usually provide the forward voltage withstanding

capacity of the GTO as a functions of the gate cathode reverse voltage (and /or resistance) for a

given forward dv

dt .

VRRM: It is the maximum repetitive reverse voltage the GTO is able to withstand. For all

asymmetric GTOs this value is in the range of 20-30 V, since it is determined by the gate

cathode junction break down voltage. Due to the anode shorted structure of the GTO the anode –

base junction (J1) does not block any reverse voltage. Unlike VDRM, VRRM rating may be

exceeded for a short time without destroying the device. This “reverse avalanche” capability of

the GTO is useful in certain situations as explained in Fig 5.6.

VD

IG1

VG1

VG2

G1

G2

D1

D2 ID2

IL

(a) (b)

VG1

IG1

IL

IG1

VG1

IL

VD

VD

VG2

ID2

Vfr > VRRM

t

t

Fig. 5.6: Reverse avalanche capability of a GTO

(a) Voltage source inverter phase leg;

(b) Voltage, current waveforms.

In the voltage source inverter phase leg shown in Fig 5.6 (a), as the GTO G1 is turned off the

current through it (IG1) starts reducing. The difference current (IL - IG1) is transferred to the

snubber capacitance of G1 and the voltage across G1 (VG1) starts increasing. When if becomes

equal to the dc link voltage VD , D2 is forward biased. However, due to the forward recovery

voltage of D2 (Vfr) the reverse voltage across G2 may exceed VRRM rating of G2 and drive it into

reverse avalanche. This condition is not dangerous for G2 provided the avalanche time and

current are small (typically within 10 μs and 1000 A respectively). However, the gate voltage

must remain negative during this time.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 14
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VDC: This is the maximum continuous DC voltage the device can withstand. Exceeding this

voltage does not immediately lead to device failure, but the probability of a cosmic radiation

failure increases progressively with the applied dc voltage.

IFAVM and IFRMS: These are maximum average and RMS on state current respectively. They are

specified at a given case temperature assuming half wave sinusoidal on state current at power

frequency.

IFSM: This is the maximum allowed peak value of a power frequency half sinusoidal nonrepetitive

surge current. The pulse is assumed to be applied at an instant when the GTO is

operating at its maximum junction temperature. The voltage across the device just after the surge

should be zero.

∫ 2

i dt : This is the limiting value of the surge current integral assuming half cycle sine wave

surge current. The junction temperature is assumed to be at the maximum value before the surge

and the voltage across the device following the surge is assumed to be zero. The i2

t rating of a

semiconductor fuse must be less than this value in order to protect the GTO. Plots of both IFSM

and as functions of surge pulse width are usually provided by the manufacturer. 2

i dt ∫

VF : This is the plot of the instantaneous forward voltage drop vs instantaneous forward

current at different junction temperatures.

Pav : For some frequently encountered current waveforms (e.g. sine wave, square wave) the

plot of the average on state power dissipation as a function of the average on state current is

provided by the manufacturers at a given junction temperature.

IH: This is the holding current of the GTO. This current, in case of a GTO1 , is considerably

higher compared to a similarly rated thyristor. Serious problem may arise due to anode current

variation because the GTO may “un-latch” at an in appropriate moment. This problem can be

avoided by feeding a continuous current into the gate (called the “back porch” current) during

ON period of the device. This DC gate current should be about 20% higher than the gate trigger

current (IGT) at the lowest expected junction temperature.

crit

di

:

dt This is the maximum permissible value of the rate of change of forward current during

turn on. This value is very much dependent on the peak gate current magnitude and the rate of

increase of the gate current. A substantial gate current ensures that all GTO cathode segments are

turned ON simultaneously and within a short time so that no local hot spot is created.

The g di

dt and IgM values specified in the operating conditions should, therefore, be considered as

minimum values.

5.5.2 Gate specification

Ig vs Vg: It is a plot of instantaneous gate current as a function of the gate voltage. This

characteristic is valid for DC and low frequency AC gate currents. They do not define the gate

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 15

voltage when the GTO is turned on from high anode voltage with high di/dt and g di

dt . Vg in this

case is much higher. Generally the gate cathode impedance of a GTO is much lower than that of

a conventional thyristor.

Vgt, Igt: Igt is the gate trigger current and Vgt , the instantaneous gate cathode voltage when Igt is

flowing into the gate. Igt has a strong junction temperature dependence and increases very rapidly

with reduced junction temperature. Igt merely specifies the minimum back porch current

necessary to turn on the GTO at a low di

dt and maintain it in conduction.

Vgrm: It is the maximum repetitive reverse gate voltage, exceeding which drives the gate

cathode junction into avalanche breakdown.

Igrm: It is the peak repetitive reverse gate current at Vgrm and Tj (max).

Igqm: It is the maximum negative turn off gate current. The gate unit should be designed to

deliver this current under any condition. It is a function of turn off anode current, g di

dt during

turn off and the junction temperature.

5.5.3 Specifications related to the switching performance

td, tr, : These are turn on delay time and anode voltage fall time respectively. Both of them can

be reduced with higher g di

dt and IgM for a given turn on anode voltage, current and di

dt .

ton (min) : This is the minimum time the GTO requires to establish homogeneous anode current.

This time is also necessary for the GTO to be able to turn off its rated anode current.

EON : It is the energy dissipated during each turn on operation. Manufacturers specify them as

functions of turn on anode current for different turn on di/dt and anode voltage EON reduces with

increased IgM .

IFgqm : It is the maximum anode current that can be repetitively turned off by a negative gate

current. It can be increased by increasing the value of the turn off snubber capacitance which

limits the dv/dt at turn off. A large negative dig/dt during turn off also helps to increase IFgqm.

ts : The storage time ts is defined as the time between the start of negative gate current and

the decrease in anode current. High value of the turn off anode current and junction temperature

increases it while a large negative dig/dt during turn off decreases it.

tf : This is the anode current fall time. It can not be influenced much by gate control.

toff(min) : This is the minimum off time before the GTO may be triggered again by a positive

gate current. If the device is re-triggered during this time, localized turn on may destroy it.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 16

Eoff : This is the energy dissipated during each turn off operation of the GTO. Eoff increases

with increase in the turn off anode current and junction temperature while it reduces with turn off

snubber capacitance.

Exercise 5.4

Fill in the blank(s) with the appropriate word(s)

i. A GTO can block rated forward voltage only when the gate is _______________ biased

with respect to the _______________.

ii. A GTO can operate in the reverse _______________ region for a short time.

iii. The holding current of a GTO is much _______________ compared to a thyristor.

iv. After a current surge the voltage across a GTO should be reduced to _______________.

v. The gate cathode impedance of a GTO is much _______________ compared to a

thyristor.

vi. The turn on di/dt capability of a GTO can be increased by in creasing the

_______________ magnitude of the gate current and _______________ during turn on.

vii. The turn on delay time and current rise time of a GTO can be reduced by increasing the

gate current _______________ and _______________ during turn ON.

viii. The maximum anode current that can be turned off repetitively can be increased by

increasing the turn off snubber _______________ and negative _______________.

Answer: (i) negatively, cathode; (ii) avalanche; (iii) larger; (iv) zero; (v) smaller; (vi)

 peak, dig/dt; (vii) magnitude, dig/dt; (viii) capacitance, dig/dt.

Reference

1) “GTO and GCT product guide”, ABB semiconductors AG, 1997.

2) “GTO Thyristors” , Makoto Azuma and Mamora Kurata, Proceedings of the IEEE,

Vol.76, No. 4, April 1988, pp 419-427.

3) “Power Electronics”, P. S. Bimbhra, Khanna Publlishers, 1993.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 17

Lesson Summary

• GTO is a four layer, three terminal current controlled minority carrier device.

• A GTO can be turned on by applying a positive gate current pulse when it is forward

biased and turned off by applying a negative gate current.

• A GTO has a “shorted anode” and highly inter-digitized gate cathode structure to

improve the gate turn off performance.

• Due to the presence of “anode shorts” a GTO can block only a small reverse voltage.

These are called “asymmetric GTOs”.

• The forward i-v characteristics of a GTO is similar to that of a thyristor. However, they

have relatively larger holding current and gate trigger current.

• The turn on di/dt capability of a GTO is significantly enhanced by using higher peak gate

current and large rate of rise of the gate current.

• Due to relatively larger holding current of a GTO a continuous low value gate current

(called the back porch current) should be injected through out the on period of the GTO.

• GTOs have relatively low turn off current gain.

• The GTO gate drive unit should be capable of injecting large positive and negative gate

currents with large rate of rise for satisfactory switching of the device.

• A GTO can block rated forward voltage only when the gate cathode junction is reverse

biased.

• A GTO can operate safely in the “reverse avalanche” region for a short time provided the

gate cathode junction is reverse biased.

• The switching delay times and energy loss of a GTO can be reduced by increasing the

gate current magnitude and its rate of rise.

• The maximum turn off anode current of a GTO can be increased by increasing the turn

off snubber capacitance.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 18

Practice Problems and Answers

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 19
0 votes
answered by
1. What are the constructional features of a GTO that bestows it with a gate turn off

capability? How do they affect the turn on performance of the GTO?

2. What are the main differences in the steady state output characteristics of a GTO and a

thyristor? What effect do they have on the gate drive requirement of a GTO?

3. What are the desirable characteristics of the gate drive circuit of a GTO? How do they

influence the switching performance of a GTO?

4. What is the significance of the specifications IFAVM and IFRMS in relation to a GTO? Is the

specification IFgqm. Same as IFAVM / IFRMS? If not, then which current should one use in a

particular application?

5. Which paramers of the gate current waveform reduces the turn on energy loss (EON) of a

GTO? How does one reduce the turn off energy lass of a GTO?

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 20

Answers to practice problems

1. Although a GTO is a four layer (p-n-p-n) three junction devices like a thyristor it has two

important constructional differences with a thyristor which bestows it with the gate turn off

capability.

• The Gate-cathode junction of a GTO is far more inter digitized compared to a thyristor.

Thousands of cathode segments, normally arranged in concentric rings around the device

center, from the cathode structure of a GTO. This highly inter digitized structure of the

GTO cathode ensures that any “current filament” formed during the turn off process of a

GTO is quickly extinguished.

• “Anode shorts” are introduced at the p+ type anode and n type base junction of a GTO.

“Anode shorts” consists of heavily doped n+ type region introduced inside the p+ type

anodes. They make direct contact with the anode metal plate and provide an alternate path

for the electrons traveling through the n base to reach the anode metal contact without

causing bole injection from the p+ anode. This helps to reduce the “tail current” during turn

off of a GTO.

• Highly inter digitized gate-cathode structure of a GTO helps to enhance the turn on di/dt

capability of the device due to faster and more even spreading of the injected gate current

to adjacent cathodes.

• On the other hand, presence of anode shorts has adverse effect on the turn on performance

of a GTO. Referring to Fig 5.2 (a), introduction of anode shorts effectively reduces the

current gain ∝p of the top p-n-p transistor. This has the effect of increasing the latching

and holding current of a GTO compared to a thyristor. The minimum gate current required

to trigger a GTO also increases.

2. In the first quadrant of the output i-v plane the steady state output characteristics of a GTO

appears to be similar to that of a thyristor. There are some important differences however.

• Both holding and latching current of a GTO are considerably higher compared to a

similarly rated thyrisstor.

• The minimum gate current require to trigger a GTO at a given forward blocking voltage is

higher compared to a thyristor.

• The forward leakage current of a GTO is considerably higher compared to a thyristor of

equal rating. In fact, if the gate current is not sufficient to turn on a GTO it may operate as

a high voltage low gain transistor with considerable anode current.

• A GTO can block rated forward voltage only when the gate voltage is negative with respect

to the cathode or at least the gate is connected to the cathode through a low value

resistance.

• In the reverse blocking region (i.e third quadrant of the output i-v plane) an asymmetric

GTO has much lower reverse break down voltage (20-30V) compared to a thyristors.

Exceeding this reverse voltage forces the GTO to operate in the “reverse avalanche” mode.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 21

This mode of operation does not destroy the device provided the gate is negatively biased

and the time of such operation is small.

• Since the holding current of a GTO is considerably higher than that of a thyristor anode

current variations can generate serious problem because the GTO might “unlatch” at an

inappropriate moment. To avoid this problem the gate drive unit of a GTO must feed the

gate terminal with a continuous “back porch” current during the entire on period of the

GTO. This back porch current must be larger than the gate trigger current.

• To avoid localized transistor operation during turn on from a high anode voltage with large

di/dt, the gate drive unit must inject a peak gate current considerably larger (3-10 times)

than the gate trigger current with fast rate of rise.

• To ensure that the GTO blocks rated forward voltage and operates safely in the “reverse

avalanche” mode the gate voltage must be maintained negative with respect to the cathode

for the entire off duration of the GTO.

3. The gate drive unit of a GTO should.

• Turn the GTO on with a large (3-10 times the minimum gate trigger current) positive gate

current pulse with high rate of rise.

• Maintain conduction of the GTO through out the ON period by injecting a positive “back

porch” gate current which is larger than the minimum gate trigger current.

• Turn the GTO off with a large negative gate current with high rate of fall. The peak

magnitude of the negative gate current should be at least 20-25% of the maximum anode

current during turn off.

• Reinforce the blocking state of the device by applying a negative voltage to the gate with

respect to cathode for the entire off duration of the GTO.

Both the turn on delay time (td) and the voltage fall time (tr) of a GTO can be reduced by

increasing the peak positive gate current and its rate of rise during turn on. Energy loss per

turn on (EON) also reduces.

A large negative gate current during turn off with a stiff slope considerably reduces the

storage time (ts) and enhances maximum anode current turn off (IFgqm) capability.

4. The specifications of IFAVM and IFRMS are given with reference to power frequency half

cycle sine wave anode current. If the GTO is employed in a line commutated phase

controlled converter application then these specifications give the maximum allowable

average and RMS current through the device respectively. However, in most GTO

applications the current waveform is for removed from a sinusoidal shape and the

switching losses are a considerable part of the total power losses. IFAVM / IFRMS ratings, in

such cases, does not have any practical significance except for comparison of current

carrying capacity of different devices.

 On the other hand, IFgqm rating of a GTO gives the maximum anode current that can be

repetitively turned off by gate control. This rating is usually lower than IFAVM / IFRMS. In

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 22

high frequency switching application this specification gives the absolute peak value of any

desired current waveform the GTO can conduct.

5. Eon is reduced by increasing the peak magnitude of the positive gate current during turn on.

Eoff is reduced by increasing the turn off snubber capacitance across the GTO.

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur 23

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