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Texas Instruments Improving the Performance of Traditional Flyback-Topology With Two-Switch –Appro Application notes
Application Report
SNVA716 – July 2014
Improving the Performance of Traditional FlybackTopology With Two-Switch –Approach
Juha Pesonen
ABSTRACT
This application note explains the basic operation of the two-switch Flyback-power stage, and clarifies
benefits and design restrictions not present in traditional Flyback-topology. Power stage operation is
demonstrated with reference design PMP10037, implemented around a LM5015 High Voltage Monolithic
Two-switch DC-DC Regulator. The reference design is available from the TI PowerLab Reference Design
Library.
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Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 2
Principle of Power Conversion ............................................................................................. 3
Transistor Voltage Stress ................................................................................................... 4
Duty Cycle Limitation in Continuous Conduction Mode ................................................................ 6
Demonstration ................................................................................................................ 8
Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 12
References .................................................................................................................. 12
List of Figures
1
Traditional Flyback-Power Stage .......................................................................................... 2
2
Two-Switch Flyback–Power Stage ........................................................................................ 3
3
Power Stage Voltages and Currents ...................................................................................... 4
4
Behavior of Drain-Source –Voltages in Continuous Conduction Mode ............................................... 5
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Behavior of Drain-Source –Voltages in Discontinuous Conduction Mode
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Power Stage During Demagnetizing Period .............................................................................. 6
7
Zoomed Waveforms of Transformer Primary ............................................................................ 8
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Waveforms of Transformer Primary ....................................................................................... 9
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High-Side Driver of LM5015 .............................................................................................. 10
10
Differential Voltage Over Transformer Primary ......................................................................... 11
11
Efficiency as a Function of Load Current
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Improving the Performance of Traditional Flyback-Topology With Two-Switch
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1
Introduction
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Introduction
Due to simplicity and low parts count, Flyback-topology is often utilized in isolated switched-mode power
supplies with an output power of 100 W or less. General operation principles of the Flyback-converter are
used by power supply engineers for fast creation of new designs. Because of a low parts count, designs
can be made with low cost. Due to its versatility and simplicity, Flyback-topology can be called the 'work
horse' of isolated topologies. Even though Flyback-topology is easily used with different applications, there
are some drawbacks. The voltage stress of the primary side transistor is high even in an ideal case, where
the leakage effects of the transformer are not considered. When current flows on the secondary side, the
drain voltage of the primary side transistor rises to the sum of the input voltage and the reflected voltage.
When considering the parasitic ringing caused by transistor capacitances and the leakage inductance of
the transformer, the voltage stress is even higher. Because the amplitude of the parasitic ringing is hard to
predict, the designer must choose a transistor with a high voltage rating with high on-state resistance.
High on-state resistance increases conduction losses and leads to a reduction of efficiency. Different kinds
of snubbers and clamping-circuits can be used to reduce the transistor voltage stress. For voltage stress,
snubbers and clamping-circuits are reasonable solutions, but the energy stored in the leakage inductance
is absorbed, reducing efficiency. Figure 1 presents a simplified schematic of the traditional Flyback-power
stage.
Figure 1. Traditional Flyback-Power Stage
The typical problems of Flyback-topology are overcome by using a two-switch Flyback-topology. When a
second transistor is added between the input voltage and the transformer, the overall voltage stress is
divided equally over both transistors. Instead of turning leakage energy into losses, it is now returned to
the input supply via two diodes. Diodes also clamp drain-source voltages of both transistors to the input
voltage, so the voltage rating of the transistors can be selected according to input voltage, without a bigger
margin. Due to these improvements, the two-switch Flyback topology is an option over traditional Flyback
topology. However, before using two-switch Flyback–topology, design restrictions and considerations must
be clarified. Though similarities with traditional the Flyback-topology are notable, different design
procedures must be followed. Figure 2 presents simplified schematic of a two-switch Flyback–powerstage.
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Principle of Power Conversion
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Figure 2. Two-Switch Flyback–Power Stage
2
Principle of Power Conversion
Basic operation of the two-switch Flyback–powerstage is similar to traditional Flyback-topology. In the
beginning of the switching period, both transistors are closed and the primary transformer is connected
between the input voltage and ground. Current starts to flow through the primary, and the diode on the
secondary side is reverse biased due to the transformer polarity. Therefore, all the energy is stored to the
transformer while the load current is supplied by the output capacitor. The time frame when the switches
are closed is called the magnetizing period. When the switches are opened, stored energy is transferred
to the output, supplying the load and the charging output capacitor. At the same time, the reflected voltage
is applied over the primary. The time frame when the switches are open is called the demagnetizing
period. Figure 3 presents currents and voltages in the power stage when working in continuous
conduction mode.
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Transistor Voltage Stress
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Figure 3. Power Stage Voltages and Currents
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Transistor Voltage Stress
As mentioned earlier, the overall voltage stress is equally divided over both transistors. To define the
voltage rating when selecting transistors, look at the schematic; the non-dot side of the primary cannot fall
more than the amount of the diode forward voltage below ground. Similarly, the dot side of the primary
cannot rise more than the amount of the diode forward voltage above the input voltage. The maximum
voltage stress of both transistors is limited to the sum of the input voltage and the diode forward voltage.
In a correctly-designed power stage, the diodes conduct only during switch off moments, when the drainsource –voltage of both transistors tends to rise because of parasitic ringing caused by leakage
inductance.
After the parasitic ringing is dampened, the drain-source –voltages settle to a certain value for the rest of
the demagnetizing period. To calculate the settled value for the drain-source –voltages, the primary side is
described with Kirchhoff’s second law according to Equation 1:
(1)
where Vin is the input voltage, VDS is the drain-source –voltage and Vref is the reflected voltage coming
from the secondary side. Equation 1 can be modified to present the expression for the drain-source
–voltage. This modification is done in Equation 2.
(2)
Based on these calculations, the behavior of the drain-source –voltages in continuous conduction mode is
presented in Figure 4.
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Transistor Voltage Stress
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Figure 4. Behavior of Drain-Source –Voltages in Continuous Conduction Mode
Snubber-circuitry is not necessary because additional clamping voltage is not needed. In traditional
Flyback-topology, the drain voltage must swing up to the sum of the input voltage and the reflected
voltage: the drain voltage cannot be clamped straight to the input voltage. The problem is solved by
creating an additional clamping voltage on top of the input voltage. Use a lossy RCD-clamp circuit to
absorb the energy stored in the leakage inductance. In a two-switch Flyback-topology, the drain-source
–voltages must swing up to only half when compared to a regular Flyback-topology, and therefore it is
safe to clamp the drain-source –voltages to the input voltage. Instead of absorbing leakage energy and
turning it into losses, the energy is now returned to the input supply.
When operating in discontinuous conduction mode, the drain-source –voltages ring when no current flows
through the transformer. Ringing is caused by the transistor capacitances and transformer inductance.
When the current stops flowing on the secondary side, there is no reflected voltage over the transformer
primary. When no current flows through the transformer, the primary side can be described according to
Equation 3.
(3)
The value for the drain-source –voltages is calculated by Equation 4.
(4)
The behavior of the drain-source –voltages in discontinuous conduction mode is presented in Figure 5.
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Duty Cycle Limitation in Continuous Conduction Mode
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Figure 5. Behavior of Drain-Source –Voltages in Discontinuous Conduction Mode
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Duty Cycle Limitation in Continuous Conduction Mode
In two-switch Flyback –topology, the diodes work as voltage clampers to reduce the voltage stress of the
transistors. Despite this, the diodes cause a design restriction which is not present in traditional Flybacktopology. During the demagnetizing period, the primary side of the transformer is connected with diodes
according to Figure 6.
Figure 6. Power Stage During Demagnetizing Period
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Duty Cycle Limitation in Continuous Conduction Mode
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The current flows in the secondary side and the reflected voltage is applied over the transformer primary.
The schematic in Figure 6 shows that the voltage range for the reflected voltage is limited. If the reflected
voltage is bigger than the input voltage, it will not fit between the diodes. The diodes begin to clamp,
interrupting transformer operation. The maximum value for the reflected voltage s reached by doing a few
calculations. To ensure the reflected voltage is not forcing the diodes to clamp, the condition in Equation 5
must come true.
(5)
where Vf is the diode forward voltage. Combine Equation 2 and Equation 5 to form Equation 6.
(6)
The maximum value for the reflected voltage is obtained from Equation 6. This is done in Equation 7.
(7)
which can be rounded to the input voltage, because it is the most dominating factor. To ensure that the
condition in Equation 7 comes true, look at the continuous conduction mode large signal transfer function
of Flyback-topology[1] in Equation 8.
(8)
where Vout is the output voltage, n is the transformer ratio and D is the duty cycle. The reflected voltage is
presented with the output voltage and the transformer ratio according to Equation 9.
(9)
Equation 8 can be modified to the form of Equation 10.
(10)
Equation 10 shows that the condition of Equation 7 comes true if the duty cycle is smaller than 0.5. If the
duty cycle is larger than 0.5, the reflected voltage is too high and the condition of Equation 7 is violated.
By combining Equation 7 with Equation 10 and neglecting the diode forward voltages, Equation 11 is
formed.
(11)
Equation 11 is modified to form Equation 12.
(12)
In two-switch Flyback –topology, the duty cycle is theoretically limited to values equal or less than 0.5
when operating in continuous conduction mode. Though it is a good design principle to limit the duty cycle
range in traditional Flyback-topology to reduce component stress, there are no such theoretical limitations
present.
If the power stage is operating in discontinuous conduction mode, the situation is different. In
discontinuous conduction mode, the output voltage is a complicated function of switching frequency,
primary inductance, load resistance and duty cycle. Thus the reflected voltage cannot be guaranteed to be
lower than the input voltage just by limiting the duty cycle. However, the restriction for the reflected voltage
is still valid, and this must be considered when selecting the turns ratio of the transformer.
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Demonstration
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Demonstration
Operation of two-switch Flyback –power stage is demonstrated with the PMP10037-reference design. The
schematics, bill of materials, transformer specification, and comprehensive test results of the PMP10037
are freely available in the TI PowerLab Reference Design Library[2].
PMP10037 design specification:
• Input voltage range: 36 to 72 V, 48 V nominal
• Output voltage: 12 V
• Output current: 0.6 A
• Switching frequency: 300 kHz
• Operation mode: CCM
The PMP10037 is implemented around the LM5015 High Voltage Monolithic Two-switch DC-DC
Regulator. The PMP10037 contains two integrated 75 V N-Channel MOSFETs and peak current-mode
control. The LM5015 features all the functions necessary to implement an efficient high voltage two-switch
Flyback –based switch-mode power supply, using a minimum of external components. The latest
datasheet and application information can be downloaded from LM5015 product folder[3] on TI.com.
Figure 7 presents voltage waveforms measured from both sides of the transformer primary. Channel 1 is
non-dot side (switched to input voltage) and channel 2 is dot side (switched to GND). To highlight the
functionality of the diodes, the time scale is small, 100 ns/div. The input voltage is set to 36 V and the
output is loaded with 0.6 A load.
Figure 7. Zoomed Waveforms of Transformer Primary
When looking at Figure 7, the moment when the diodes are clamping is apparent. The drain-source
–voltage of both transistors is clamped when it rises above the input voltage. After the ringing is
dampened, both sides of the transformer primary settle until the drain-source –voltages are roughly 30 V,
which complies with Equation 2. The maximum voltage stress for the transistors is the highest defined
value for the input voltage, which is 72 V in this particular case. If the same requirements are covered with
traditional Flyback-topology, the voltage stress would be 96 V when transformer leakage effects are not
considered. After snubber-circuitry is added, some margin is still needed. The designer chooses a
transistor with a voltage rating of roughly 150 V, twice as much when compared with the voltage rating of
integrated MOSFETs in the LM5015.
Figure 8 presents the voltage waveforms of the transformer primary over a few switching cycles. Channel
1 is non-dot side and channel 2 is dot side. The input voltage is set to 48 V and the output is loaded with a
0.6 A load.
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Demonstration
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Figure 8. Waveforms of Transformer Primary
Both sides of the transformer primary go down rapidly at the end of the demagnetizing period. This is
caused by the control IC, not power stage operation. To control the transistor between the input supply
and the non-dot side of the transformer primary, an appropriate high-side driver is needed. In most cases
the supply voltage for the high-side driver is generated with a bootstrap-circuit, and the LM5015 is not an
exception. Usually the bootstrap-capacitor is self-charged when the low-side transistor conducts. This is
possible only in topologies where transistors form a bridge-configuration and are controlled with a
complementary PWM-signal. In two-switch Flyback-topology, this is not the case. Transistors are
controlled by a simultaneous PWM-signal, and there is no bridge-configuration. To charge the bootstrap
capacitor, an additional path from the non-dot side to ground is needed. Figure 9 presents the high-side
driver of the LM5015. The bootstrap-capacitor is marked with “C”.
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Demonstration
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Figure 9. High-Side Driver of LM5015
The LM5015 includes internal circuitry for charging the bootstrap-capacitor. This circuitry consists of a
transistor and a diode, and marked in Figure 9 with a red square. When the transistor conducts, the
bootstrap-capacitor is charged from the supply voltage of the LM5015. The internal transistor is controlled,
so that the bootstrap-capacitor is always charged at the end of the switching period. When the bootstrapcapacitor is charged, the non-dot side of the transformer primary is pulled low. To maintain a volt-second
balance, the dot side of the transformer primary has to follow. As seen in Figure 8, when the non-dot side
is pulled low at the end of the demagnetizing period, the voltage on the dot side also drops by the same
amount. Despite this, the differential voltage over the transformer primary stays constant, and transformer
operation is not violated in any way. The voltage waveform of the transformer primary is presented in
Figure 10.
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Demonstration
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Figure 10. Differential Voltage Over Transformer Primary
If external transistors are used, driving the high-side transistor requires more effort. One solution for
generating the supply voltage for the high-side driver is auxiliary winding, which generates the necessary
supply voltage on top of the primary voltage. Another solution is to use a pulse transformer. However,
these methods can cause unwanted issues, such as increasing complexity and size. The LM5015
integrates everything inside one chip keeping complexity, size, and costs low.
Figure 11 presents efficiency as a function of the load current, measured with different values of input
voltage. Peak efficiency is over 90%, a good result when dealing with low output power. The typical peak
efficiency of Flyback-converters with an output power lower than 10 W lies somewhere between 85% and
88%.
Figure 11. Efficiency as a Function of Load Current
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Conclusion
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Conclusion
This application report describes the drawbacks of traditional Flyback topology and clarifies how these
drawbacks are overcome with a two-switch approach. The basic operation and design restrictions of the
two-switch Flyback topology are discussed and the theory behind the design restrictions is also provided.
The operation of a two-switch Flyback power stage is demonstrated with the PMP10037 reference design,
implemented around the LM5015 High Voltage Monolithic Two-switch DC-DC Regulator.
While in the two-switch –approach, overall parts count is increased, a slightly larger parts count is not a
major drawback. The energy stored in the leakage inductance is relatively small, so cheap diodes with a
small package and a low current rating can be used. Generally transistors with a lower voltage rating are
cheaper, and the on-state resistance of two transistors is smaller than one transistor with a double voltage
rating, meaning performance improves while costs stay the same. There is also no need for lossy
snubber-circuits in the two-switch approach.
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References
[1] Robert W. Erickson & Dragan Maksimović: Fundamentals of Power Electronics, Second Edition.
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004.
[2] PMP10037 in PowerLab Reference Design Library: http://www.ti.com/tool/pmp10037
[3] LM5015 product folder: http://www.ti.com/product/lm5015
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