|Publication number||US20060145746 A1|
|Application number||US 11/371,037|
|Publication date||Jul 6, 2006|
|Filing date||Mar 8, 2006|
|Priority date||Feb 26, 2003|
|Also published as||CA2517152A1, EP1602016A1, US7030680, US20040164785, WO2004077190A1|
|Publication number||11371037, 371037, US 2006/0145746 A1, US 2006/145746 A1, US 20060145746 A1, US 20060145746A1, US 2006145746 A1, US 2006145746A1, US-A1-20060145746, US-A1-2006145746, US2006/0145746A1, US2006/145746A1, US20060145746 A1, US20060145746A1, US2006145746 A1, US2006145746A1|
|Original Assignee||Metzler Richard A|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Referenced by (4), Classifications (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/451,060 filed Feb. 26, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to integrated circuit semiconductor diodes and transistors.
2. Prior Art
Semiconductor devices tend to be divided into discrete components and integrated circuits. The discrete devices include single function components such as bipolar transistors, junction field effect transistors, surface field effect transistors, silicon controlled rectifiers, etc. and some integrated components such as insulated gate bipolar transistors. One characteristic that is common to all the discrete components is the lack of external power supply requirements.
Recently a new form of discrete circuit has entered the market; a highly efficient diode made from surface field effect transistors, an integrated circuit diode (ICD). This circuit in its present form (passive form) does not utilize any on-chip drive circuitry; however, with the addition of either external or internal power, these circuits can improve their performance dramatically by utilizing on-chip circuitry to actively drive the transistor gates (active form).
Utilizing external power for this purpose tends to be less attractive because of the added circuit board complexity. However, it does have the advantage of not altering the external signal while drawing the charge needed for the onboard supply voltage. In most applications, the added convenience of the self-powered circuit would be advantageous.
In typical semiconductor diodes, conduction in the forward direction is limited to leakage current values until the forward voltage bias reaches a characteristic value for the particular type of semiconductor device. By way of example, silicon pn junction diodes don't conduct significantly until the forward bias voltage is approximately 0.6 to 0.7 volts. Many silicon Schottky diodes, because of the characteristics of the Schottky barrier, can begin to conduct at lower voltages, such as 0.4 volts. Germanium pn junction diodes have a forward conduction voltage drop of approximately 0.3 volts at room temperature. However, the same are rarely used, not only because of their incompatibility with silicon integrated circuit fabrication, but because of temperature sensitivity and other undesirable characteristics thereof.
In some applications, diodes are used not for their rectifying characteristics, but rather to be always forward biased to provide their characteristic forward conduction voltage drop. For instance, in integrated circuits, diodes or diode connected transistors are frequently used to provide a forward conduction voltage drop substantially equal to the base-emitter voltage of another transistor in the circuit.
In circuits that utilize the true rectifying characteristics of semiconductor diodes, the forward conduction voltage drop of the diode is usually a substantial disadvantage. By way of specific example, in a DC to DC step-down converter, a transformer is typically used wherein a semiconductor switch controlled by an appropriate controller periodically connects and disconnects the primary of the transformer with a DC power source. The secondary voltage is connected to a converter output, either through a diode for its rectifying characteristics, or through another semiconductor switch. The controller varies either the duty cycle or the frequency of the primary connection to the power source as required to maintain the desired output voltage. If a semiconductor switch is used to connect the secondary to the output, the operation of this second switch is also controlled by the controller; one form of this switch configuration circuit is called a synchronous rectifier.
Use of a semiconductor switch to couple the secondary to the output has the advantage of a very low forward conduction voltage drop, and has the disadvantage of requiring careful timing control throughout the operating temperature range of the converter to maintain the efficiency of the energy transfer from primary to secondary. Timing of the switching action for the primary versus the secondary is critical and must take into account the phase delays of the transformer and other elements. These circuits are obviously very costly.
The use of a semiconductor diode for this purpose has the advantage of eliminating the need for control of a secondary switch, but has the disadvantage of imposing the forward conduction voltage drop of the semiconductor diode on the secondary circuit. This has at least two very substantial disadvantages. First, the forward conduction voltage drop of the semiconductor diode device can substantially reduce the efficiency of the converter. For instance, newer integrated circuits commonly used in computer systems are designed to operate using lower power supply voltages, such as 3.3 volts, 3 volts and 2.7 volts. In the case of a 3 volt power supply, the imposition of a 0.7 volt series voltage drop means that the converter is in effect operating into a 3.7 volt load, thereby limiting the efficiency of the converter to 81%, even before other circuit losses are considered.
Second, the efficiency loss described above represents a power loss in the diode, resulting in the heating thereof. This limits the power conversion capability of an integrated circuit converter, and in many applications requires the use of a discrete diode with a heat sink of adequate size, increasing the overall circuit size and cost. Obviously any improvement in the forward voltage drop will have a major impact on the overall circuit performance.
Another commonly used circuit for AC to DC conversion is the full wave bridge rectifier usually coupled to the secondary winding of a transformer having the primary thereof driven by the AC power source. Here two diode voltage drops are imposed on the peak DC output, making the circuit particularly inefficient using conventional diodes, and increasing the heat generation of the circuit requiring dissipation through large discrete devices, heat dissipating structures, etc. depending on the DC power to be provided.
Therefore, a semiconductor diode having a low forward conduction voltage drop would be highly advantageous to use as a rectifying element in circuits wherein the diode will be subjected to both forward and reverse bias voltages from time to time. While such a diode may find many applications in discrete form, it would be further desirable for such a diode to be compatible with integrated circuit fabrication techniques so that the same could be realized in integrated circuit form as part of a much larger integrated circuit. Further, while reverse current leakage is always undesirable and normally must be made up by additional forward conduction current, thereby decreasing circuit efficiency, reverse current leakage can have other and more substantial deleterious affects on some circuits. Accordingly, it would also be desirable for such a semiconductor diode to further have a low reverse bias leakage current.
The ICD in its passive form provides lower forward voltages than Schottky diodes, with enhanced reliability at a competitive price. They also provide an attractive alternative for the higher voltage portion of the synchronous rectifier market; however, they are not able to replace the entire synchronous rectifier market.
The present invention provides circuits and methods that, when integrated into an IC, will provide an on-chip power source to run control circuits on the IC. It draws its power from the applied signal during the “off” portion of the IC's cycle. For example, in the case of an IC behaving as a rectifier, the circuit will utilize the large reverse voltage during the off state of the rectifier to draw power for the supply. In the case of an IC behaving as a transistor, which does not have a reversal of the applied potential, the power supply will draw its power during the “off” state when a large bias is formed across the IC.
During the “on” state of these IC's, the power supply will provide power to drive the control circuits which can be used to generate a more conductive “on” state, and a lower leakage “off” state. In the case of an ICD, the forward voltage can be significantly reduced, to a level equivalent to or better than that of a synchronous rectifier. In the case of a surface field effect transistor IC, the gate drive can be substantially enhanced, providing a reduced “on resistance” which equates to forward voltage reduction.
The device shown in
In usual diode terms, the Anode of a diode is the positive terminal during forward conduction, and the Cathode is the negative terminal. For the n-channel ICD the forward conduction Drain corresponds to the Anode, and the Source which is the n-type substrate to the Cathode. If one were to build a p-channel ICD the Anode would correspond to the Source which is the p-type substrate, and the Cathode to the Drain. Due to carrier mobility differences, our discussion of the ICDs will focus on the n-channel device with the understanding that changing material types and circuit polarities would produce a p-channel ICD.
For those skilled in the art, it is apparent that a JFET could be substituted for the MOSFET to form the ICD and the ICM could also be made in a JFET flavor.
In the disclosure to follow, passive n-channel ICDs and active n-channel and p-channel ICMs are referred to, the active devices being three terminal devices with separate gate connections. These devices assume a MOSFET design and have the body or backgate of the ICDs connected to the drain for the ICDs and the source for the ICMs.
The use of discrete MOSFETs driven by control logic circuitry is well known in the art; for example, synchronous rectifiers. The addition of the control logic to an IC is also well known, as is the integration of on chip power supplies such as the back gate power supplies on IC's which provide a negative potential to the substrate to control transistor thresholds; however, the integration of a self-contained power supply into an IC without external power supply connections is new to the art. The present invention incorporates circuitry to the IC for the purpose of on-chip charge storage, acting as an effective battery to power the control logic. The energy stored in the battery is extracted from the actual signal lines during the “off” state of the IC.
As can be seen, if there is an alternating voltage across the diode and a load (load is not shown) the peak to peak voltage will be stored on the capacitor with the positive potential at the signal 1 side, and the negative potential at the signal 2 side. This effectively acts as a half wave rectifier circuit. Also, note that the control circuitry will require a sense line to synchronize its control activity with the applied signal. This sense line must be isolated from the charge storage device. In the case of
It is apparent that if a standard MOSFET is substituted into this circuit, implying that there is no change in the polarity of the signal voltage, the diode can be reversed so that it will charge the capacitor during the off state of the transistor. See
The control circuit may take many forms. The examples presented here are for demonstrating the application of the invention rather than a specific control circuitry.
The control circuit is designed to take the sense input, and use it to control the potential applied to the N-channel MOSFET gate. Resistors R3 and R4 and transistors M1 and M2 form a bistable latch. The state of the latch is determined by the potential of the sense signal (trigger signal in
The configuration of transistor M3 with the zener diode prevents excessive voltage on the gate of the ICD that could potentially cause a gate oxide rupture. When the trigger signal changes polarity, the state of the latch is reversed so that the gate of transistor M3 is driven negative, at the same time, the gate of transistor M4 is driven positive so that the gate of the ICD, and the source of transistor M3 are pulled negative.
As can be seen, the gate of the active ICD is driven between an off signal (V−), and a positive voltage set by the zener diode. This allows the on state of the ICD to have a much lower voltage drop than it would in the passive state of
While the shaping characteristics of the latch are convenient, in many cases the full latch is not required for the circuit to function correctly. For example, in
In the ICM of
While certain preferred embodiments of the present invention have been disclosed and described herein, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
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|International Classification||G05F1/565, H03K17/687|
|Cooperative Classification||H03K2017/307, H03K2217/0081, G05F1/565|