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Technology Now

Introducing Mitsubishi Electric Power Device Technologies and Product Trends

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Amidst a social background where it is indispensable to take action concerning the environment, power devices have the main role of efficiently using resources and energy in power electronics, and are thus growing increasingly more important.

Based on offering power devices designed for "low power loss" and "miniaturization," we at Mitsubishi Electric listen to customers and apply what we hear to the development and manufacture of a variety of products, such as intelligent power modules, which are at the forefront of the inverter products market.

Our aim is to raise the high functionality of power devices yet another level, thereby enabling companies in various fields to create products with high added-value. In order to better respond to the needs of our customers, we continue to refine technologies not only by improving basic performance and developing new features, but also by using integrated technologies to enhance development, design and production efficiency, and providing packaging technologies that offer superior cost performance.

Utilizing the comprehensive technologies we've cultivated and our engineering spirit, we're creating a new tide in the world of power electronics, manufacturing products that are truly useful to companies. We're also developing power devices that will contribute to the creation of a more eco-compatible society.

Mitsubishi Electric's main device in the hundreds-of-hertz to tens-of-kilohertz range is the "insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT)". The company develops and markets power modules for a variety of applications, including electrical railways, manufacturing, automobiles, medical equipment and consumer products. In this issue, I will introduce product and technology trends in this range of power devices.

Current Power Device Applications

Let's start by discussing functionality. The first power devices had system structures comprised of numerous discrete semiconductors built into them. In order to make them more convenient, the IGBT module was developed by embedding the wiring of the main circuit. Next, drive and protection functions were integrated for higher functionality, transforming the device and giving birth to the "intelligent power module (IPM)."

Embedding the peripheral circuits in the IPMs contributed to shortening customers' development and design times, and reducing production line assembly processes and equipment size. Recently, not only do applications include industrial use, the modules are also being used widely in home electric appliances. Additionally, in order to contribute to more efficient total systems, higher functionality is being pursued through peripheral component integration, system control, system protection functions and information transmission functions.

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