What is power electronics

Power electronics

The term power electronics describes a large area of ‚Äč‚Äčelectrical engineering that deals with the control, conversion and switching of electrical energy with the help of semiconductor components. The power ranges are not firmly defined in power electronics, but they range from a voltage range from 5 V to around 400 kV and a current range from 500 mA to 6 kA.


In power transmission, the range of transmittable power ranges from less than one watt for voltage regulators, relay or valve drivers to several gigawatts for high-voltage direct current transmission (HVDC).

Power electronics play an important role in drive technology. In many areas, large drives are controlled electronically or frequency converters are used for direct power supply in energy generation. In addition, power electronics are an important link between energy generation and energy consumption and contribute to the economical use of the increasingly expensive raw material energy. Its task is to bring the generated energy efficiently and reliably to the consumer. Actuators help to adjust the voltage levels and frequencies to the different energy networks with as little loss as possible. The efficiency of these voltage converters reduces the transmitted energy.

Power electronics components are power semiconductors that switch currents and voltages. Frequently used are: power diodes, power transistors, both bipolar transistors and field effect transistors (FET), junction field effect transistors (JFET), super junction transistors (SJT), power MOSFETs such as the super junction MOSFET (SJ-MOSFET), GTO thyristors, Integrated Gate Commutated Thyristor (IGCT), a further development of the GTO thyristor to reduce circuit complexity, Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) and thyristors (Diac / Triac).

Bipolar transistors, MOSFETs and SBR diodes are used in switched-mode power supplies and DC / DC converters, GTO thyristors and IGCT thyristors in power converter technology. The requirements for power electronic components are high blocking voltages, low switching losses and, above all, high switching currents.