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Texas Instruments Working With Boost Converters Application notes
Application Report
SNVA731 – June 2015
Working with Boost Converters
Frank De Stasi
ABSTRACT
This brief note highlights some of the more common pitfalls when using boost regulators. These include
maximum achievable output current and voltage, short circuit behavior and basic layout issues. It is
assumed that the reader is familiar with the basic operation of a boost regulator.
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2
3
4
5
6
7
Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 2
Nomenclature ................................................................................................................ 2
Output Power Limitations ................................................................................................... 2
3.1
Maximum Output Current .......................................................................................... 2
3.2
Maximum Output Voltage .......................................................................................... 5
Example ....................................................................................................................... 6
Short Circuits and Transients .............................................................................................. 6
5.1
Output Short Circuit ................................................................................................ 6
5.2
Inrush Current ....................................................................................................... 6
5.3
Solutions ............................................................................................................. 7
PCB Layout ................................................................................................................... 8
Other Considerations ...................................................................................................... 10
List of Tables
.....................................................................................
1
Boost Regulator Design Resources
2
A Sample of Boost Regulators and Controllers ........................................................................ 10
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1
Introduction
1
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Introduction
The boost converter is used to "step-up" an input voltage to some higher level, required by a load. This
unique capability is achieved by storing energy in an inductor and releasing it to the load at a higher
voltage. This brief note highlights some of the more common pitfalls when using boost regulators. These
include maximum achievable output current and voltage, short circuit behavior and basic layout issues.
The references at the end of this document provide excellent overviews of the operation of a boost
regulator; and should be consulted if the reader is not familiar with the basic operation of this type of
converter.
2
Nomenclature
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
VIN = Input voltage to regulator
VOUT = Output voltage of regulator
IIN = Input current to regulator
IOUT = Output current of regulator
R1 = Resistance of MOSFET switch
R2 = Resistance of synchronous MOSFET (if applicable)
RL = Resistance of inductor
VD = Diode voltage drop (if applicable)
η = Efficiency of regulator
D = Duty cycle; ratio of MOSFET on-time to period
DMAX = Maximum duty cycle reached by regulator
3
Output Power Limitations
3.1
Maximum Output Current
Figure 1 shows simplified versions of both the boost and buck converters. Only the power stage is shown;
a complete regulator requires more circuitry to regulate the output. We will start by looking at the buck.
Note that one side of the inductor is connected to the output node. Since no DC current can flow through
the output capacitor, the entire load current flows through the inductor. The other side of the inductor is
connected to the common node between the MOSFET and diode. Figure 2 shows the inductor and
MOSFET current in CCM. If we ignore the small triangular ripple, it is easy to see that the peak MOSFET
current is nearly the same as the load current. This makes it easy for the regulator manufacturer to specify
the maximum load current that the regulator can supply. Regardless of the input or output voltage, the
MOSFET can be sized for the maximum load current. Also, the current limit can be set just above this
maximum value. So, the maximum MOSFET current rating of a buck is the maximum load current rating.
As an example the LM43603 is rated for 3A on the data sheet. This is the maximum load current for this
device.
This is not the case for a boost converter. Note from Figure 1 that the inductor is connected from the input
supply to the common node between the MOSFET and diode. Therefore the peak MOSFET current is
now nearly equal to the input current, not the load current. We will see shortly that the input current
depends on the input and output voltages of the converter. The boost regulator is still rated based on the
maximum MOSFET current but this does not represent the maximum load current, as with the buck.
2
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L
MOSFET
VOUT
VIN
CIN
IOUT
COUT
DIODE
BUCK
L
DIODE
VOUT
VIN
COUT
CIN
IOUT
MOSFET
BOOST
Figure 1. Buck and Boost Simplified Power Stage
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Output Power Limitations
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Currents in Buck Regulator
Current
Inductor
Current
Output
Current
MOSFET
Current
t
Currents in Boost Regulator
Current
Inductor
Current
Input
Current
MOSFET
Current
Figure 2. Inductor and MOSFET Current
The simplest way to calculate the input current of a boost regulator is to use the power balance equation,
shown in Equation 1. For a DC/DC converter, the input and output powers are just the product of their
respective currents and voltages. Adding the triangular ripple current, we arrive at Equation 2.
PIN
IIN
POUT
§V
IOUT ˜ ¨¨ OUT
© VIN
(1)
· 1 'I
¸¸ ˜ ¹ K 2
(2)
This equation highlights the biggest stumbling block when working with boost converters: the input current
will always be larger than the load current (IOUT). Since the output voltage of a boost is always greater than
the input voltage, the input current must be greater than the load current. This is a simple consequence of
conservation of energy: the input power will be equal to the output power plus the losses. In this case the
losses are taken care of by the efficiency factor, η. Equation 2 also applies to a buck converter. And since
the output voltage of a buck is less than the input voltage, the input current will be less than the load
current, for any reasonable efficiency. As an example, suppose we wish to convert 6V to 12V at a load
current of 2A. If the efficiency is 90%, and the peak-to-peak ripple current is 30% of the load, then
Equation 2 gives:
IIN
4
2A ˜
12V 1
2A ˜ 0.3
˜
6 V 0.9
2
4.74A
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As mentioned above, the MOSFET in the regulator must be rated for this current and not the load current.
It is easy to see that this current is much larger than the load. Devices such as the LM2587 or TPS55430
would be suitable for this application, based on a 90% efficiency. Note that both of these devices are
specified as "5A" regulators; yet this rating is required to provide 2A of load current under these
conditions.
All of the required information to use Equation 2 is available to the designer except perhaps the efficiency.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict the efficiency when designing a new application. As a first pass an
efficiency of 100% (η=1) can be used. Then, when a candidate regulator is chosen, the efficiency curves
in the data sheet can be used as a guide to refine the design. As always the WEBENCH® Design Tool can
be used to generate a complete and optimized design for virtually any required regulator application.
3.2
Maximum Output Voltage
The most fundamental limitation on the maximum output voltage for the boost is the maximum rated
voltage of the MOSFET and/or diode. This is specified in the data sheet and is one of the first steps in
choosing a candidate converter for a given application. A more practical limitation arises from the
maximum duty ratio at which the converter can operate. The duty ratio is defined as the on-time of the
MOSFET divided by the total switching period. In all DC/DC converters the output voltage will be some
function of this duty ratio. For the boost converter the approximate duty ratio (D) can be found with
Equation 4. Parasitic resistance in the inductor and MOSFET, and the diode voltage drop, will set an
upper limit on the duty ratio and therefore the output voltage. As shown in Figure 3 , all practical boost
regulators have a maximum duty cycle, beyond which the regulator will not boost. Equation 5 can be used
to find the approximate maximum duty ratio for a given load current, input voltage, and component
resistance. This equation applies to both synchronous and non-synchronous converters. Also, the
designer of the regulator may impose an upper limit to prevent control loop instabilities; this limit can
usually be found in the data sheet. The smaller of this value and any maximum duty ratio given in the data
sheet should be compared to that calculated in Equation 4 to ensure that the candidate regulator will
function correctly.
D
1
DMAX #
VIN ˜ K
VOUT
(4)
VIN IOUT ˜ >R1 R 2 2 ˜ RL @
VIN IOUT ˜ >R1 R 2 @
(5)
VOUT / VIN
1
0
DMAX
Figure 3. Boost Ratio vs. Duty Cycle
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Example
4
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Example
The following example may help to illustrate some of the above considerations.
• VIN = 5V (min.)
• VOUT = 15V
• IOUT = 1.2A (max.)
• η = 0.8
• VD = 0.4V
• RL = 0.05Ω
• TPS55340: R1 = 0.11Ω, DMAX = 0.89 From Data sheet
• D from Equation 4 = 0.73
• DMAX = 0.93
Since 0.73 is less than 0.93 and 0.89, this design seems safe. However, Equation 2 must also be
checked. Substituting the example values we arrive at a peak current of about 4.7A. This is just within the
minimum current limits of both the LM2587 and TPS55430. This example clearly shows the importance of
checking both the maximum inductor current and maximum duty cycle when choosing a boost regulator.
In this case for an input voltage of 5V and an output voltage of 15V, the maximum load current is about
1.2A when using a 5A boost regulator. (Equation 6)
IIN
1 .2 A ˜
15 V 1
1 .2 A ˜ 0.3
˜
5 V 0 .8
2
5
Short Circuits and Transients
5.1
Output Short Circuit
4 .7 A
(6)
From Figure 1 we see that there is a direct path between the input supply and the load for an ordinary
non-synchronous boost converter. This has several implications. First, if the output is shorted, a potentially
large current will flow from the input supply to the output short. Without going into the detailed circuit
analysis, if the output of a boost regulator is pulled down to the input voltage or below, the inductor current
will try to increase without limit. The regulator cannot prevent this, since at most it can only turn on the
MOSFET. This will divert the current from the output, but will still cause large currents to flow from the
input to ground. If the application requires that the converter survive a hard short on the output, then either
some form of disconnect switch must be used or a more advanced boost architecture is required. For
overloads that pull the output voltage out of regulation, while still above the input voltage, the current limit
of the converter will protect the input supply and the power stage components.
5.2
Inrush Current
The other concern is the initial inrush current required to charge the output capacitor to the level of the
input voltage. When the input supply is initially connected (such as "hot plugging" a battery to the system)
the output capacitor will resonantly charge through the inductor and diode, even if the regulator is
disabled. Once the output reaches the input voltage, the diode blocks and stops the current. The
approximate waveforms are shown in Figure 4. If we ignore the damping effects of the inductor resistance
and load, we can approximate the charging time and peak current with Equation 7.
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Inductor
Current
IPEAK
t
TPULSE
Output
Voltage
VIN
t
Figure 4. Boost Inrush Current
IPEAK # VIN ˜
COUT
L
TPULSE # S ˜ L ˜ COUT
(7)
In many cases this current and/or the charging time will not be a major concern. However, it is good to
check this detail.
5.3
Solutions
As mentioned above, the only way to avoid these issues is to either provide an input disconnect switch in
the system or use a more sophisticated boost regulator. Boost converters such as the LM3017 or
TPS61230 provide full isolation between input and output, including true shutdown and inrush current
limiting. In the case of the TPS61230 this is accomplished by replacing the diode with a second MOSFET
(synchronous MOSFET) and controlling both the gate and body voltages to completely open the path
between input and output. The LM3017 is designed to control an external MOSFET in series with the
inductor to provide true isolation.
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PCB Layout
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PCB Layout
The PCB layout of any DC-DC converter is critical to the optimal performance of the design, and the boost
converter is no exception. Bad PCB layout can disrupt the operation of an otherwise good schematic
design. Even if the converter regulates correctly, bad PCB layout can mean the difference between a
robust design and one that cannot be mass produced. Furthermore, the EMI performance of the regulator
is dependent on the PCB layout, to a great extent. In a boost converter, the most critical PCB feature is
the loop formed by the output capacitor, diode and the regulator ground, as shown in Figure 5.
Switch
Node
L
D1
VOUT
VIN
COUT
IOUT
Figure 5. Fast Current Loops in Boost Regulator
This loop carries fast transient currents that can cause large transient voltages when reacting with the
trace inductance. These unwanted transient voltages will disrupt the proper operation of the converter.
Because of this, the traces in this loop should be wide and short, and the loop area as small as possible to
reduce the parasitic inductance. Figure 6 shows a recommended layout for the critical components of a
generic boost converter. The top-side metal is shown in red; the bottom in blue. The following important
guidelines should be followed:
1. Keep the ground loop between the output capacitor, COUT, and the regulator (MOSFET) ground as
small as possible.
2. Place the output capacitor, diode and inductor as close together as possible. This will keep the loop
area small.
3. Note that the feedback is taken from near the output capacitor. In the example the trace is on the
bottom and routed away from the noisy switch node. Avoid connecting the feedback between the
output capacitor and diode.
4. Some devices require external compensation components; such as RC and CC. The ground of these
components should be close to the ground of the regulator.
5. If the regulator requires a feedback divider, it should be placed physically close to the regulator. This
divider should be grounded close to the regulator ground.
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Top (red) and Solder Mask
Top (red) and Bottom (blue)
Figure 6. Example PCB Layout for the LM2587
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Other Considerations
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Other Considerations
There are several other aspects of the complete design that need consideration. These include small
signal stability, transient performance, power dissipation, and EMI. The best resource to address these
issues is the data sheet for the candidate regulator. Of course, every design should be tested on the
bench before committing to production. One of the best ways to begin a new design is with the
WEBENCH® Design Tool. The resources found in Table 1 should also prove helpful. Finally, some of our
more popular boost regulators, and controllers, can be found in Table 2.
Table 1. Boost Regulator Design Resources
TITLE
LINK
SLVA372 Basic Calculation of a Boost Converter's Power Stage
SLVA372
SNVA021 Layout Guidelines for Switching Power Supplies
SNVA021
SNVA408 Modeling and Design of Current Mode Control Boost Converters
SNVA408
SLVA633 Practical Feedback Loop Analysis for a Voltage Mode Boost converter
SLVA633
SLVA636 Practical Feedback Loop Analysis for a Current Mode Boost converter
SLVA636
SNVA067 Compensation for the LM3478 Boost Controller
SNVA067
SNVA255 LM2735 Boost and SEPIC DC-DC Regulator
SNVA255
Table 2. A Sample of Boost Regulators and Controllers
10
Device Name
Link
LMR62014
LMR62014
LMR61428
LMR61428
LMR62421
LMR62421
LM2735
LM2735
LM3478
LM3478
LM3488
LM3488
LM3017
LM3017
TPS61230
TPS61230
LM2587
LM2587
TPS55430
TPS55430
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