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The insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) is a three-terminal power semiconductor device primarily used as an electronic switch which, as it was developed, came to combine high efficiency and fast switching. It switches electric power in many modern appliances: variable-frequency drives (VFDs), electric cars, trains, variable speed refrigerators, lamp ballasts, air-conditioners and even stereo systems with switching amplifiers. Since it is designed to turn on and off rapidly, amplifiersthat use it often synthesize complex waveforms with pulse width modulation and low-pass filters. In switching applications modern devices boast pulse repetition rates well into the ultrasonic range—frequencies which are at least ten times the highest audio frequency handled by the device when used as an analog audio amplifier.
The IGBT combines the simple gate-drive characteristics of MOSFETs with the high-current and low-saturation-voltage capability of bipolar transistors. The IGBT combines an isolated gate FET for the control input, and a bipolar power transistoras a switch, in a single device. The IGBT is used in medium- to high-power applications like switched-mode power supplies,traction motor control and induction heating. Large IGBT modules typically consist of many devices in parallel and can have very high current handling capabilities in the order of hundreds of amperes with blocking voltages of 6000 V, equating to hundreds of kilowatts.
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