A Novel Current-Source-Based Gate Driver with Active Voltage Balancing Control for Series-Connected GaN HEMTs

Zhengda Zhang, Chunhui Liu, Mengzhi Wang, Yunpeng Si, Yifu Liu, Qin Lei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The voltage rating of the commercial Gallium Nitride (GaN) power devices are limited to 600/650 V due to the lateral structure. Stacking the low-voltage rating devices is a straightforward approach to block higher dc link voltage. However, the unbalanced voltage sharing can occur due to the discrepancies in the gate driving loops, the device parameter tolerance and the device-to-ground displacement currents for the series-connected devices in the stack. The voltage imbalance may cause the over-voltage breakdown, in particular for GaN devices, which do not have the avalanche breakdown mechanism. In this article, a novel controllable current source gate driver is proposed, which addresses the voltage imbalance issue of series-connected GaN HEMTs for both hard switching and soft switching scenarios. The proposed current source gate driver controls the device switching timing and the dv/dt with fine accuracy by directly regulating the device gate current. Without the employment of the lossy snubber circuit or the external Miller capacitor, the switching energy and the switching speed are almost not compromised for each individual device. Meanwhile, the current mirror circuits are utilized as the discontinuous pulsed current sources, which produce negligible additional gate driving loss. A series-connected GaN-based multiple pulse tester is built to validate the proposed current source gate driver and the voltage balancing strategies. It is demonstrated that the drain-to-source voltage difference of the series-connected GaN devices is below 10% for different load current and different switching speed (dv/dt) conditions. Moreover, it is found that the series-connected GaN solution can save 33.6% switching energy compared with the benchmark SiC solution under the same operating condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9393550
Pages (from-to)346-367
Number of pages22
JournalIEEE Open Journal of Power Electronics
StatePublished - 2021


  • Gallium nitride
  • HEMTs
  • current control
  • driver circuits
  • parasitic capacitance
  • stacking
  • switching loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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