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PhD position in FastTrans project - I

PhD position in FastTrans project - I

Chief Scientist

SINTEF Energi and NTNU announces a PhD on "Advanced Test Methods for Power Electronics", a study on the internal insulation system of high voltage power electronic modules. The PhD will be organized at NTNU's institute for Electric Power Technology.

The challenge

Power electronic converters are central for the effective integration of wind and solar power into the energy system, for electric drives and ship propulsion, and for HVDC systems. Cutting edge wide-bandgap semiconductor power electronic components are rapidly developing toward higher voltage ratings and faster turn on/off times fuelled by the development of new materials and the need for reducing energy losses. However, the rapid switching of power converters cause voltage surges with fast rise times that can inflict more severe stress on electrical apparatus than the stress caused by pure sinusoidal voltages. There is a need to investigate and understand how these fast voltage surges affect the electrical insulation in high voltage equipment under the influence of power electronic converters, including internal effects in insulation packaging of the power electronic modules.

Background for PhD task

Power electronic modules are made with semiconductor switches mounted on copper islands bonded to high quality ceramics. These chips are in turn imbedded in an insulating silicone gel for packaging. Very high electric fields around defects may lead to harmful discharges in the power electronic modules under operation. These rapid switching stresses have been shown to be more harmful to electrical components than 50 Hz sinusoidal stresses. Nevertheless, high voltage power electronics modules are typically factory tested according to international IEC-standards, including measurements of electrical partial discharges under 50 Hz sinusoidal stress. Therefore, there is a need to develop new testing procedures for power electronics modules that are compatible with real-life switching stresses.

The PhD project

The planned PhD work is mainly of experimental nature. There is a need to develop an understanding of high-field electronic phenomena that lead to partial discharges and to develop methods to detect and localize them. Most of the experimental facilities are already built and available. The work will be performed in close collaboration with experienced research scientists from SINTEF. The student will also be offered internships with our partner Infineon. The stipend period may start immediately.

The FastTrans project

The FastTrans project include a wide range of topics: insulation in transformers, generators and motors as well as fast transient pulse propagation. The partners in the project range from manufacturers of power electronic modules (Infineon – the world's largest producer of high voltage semiconductors, to end user such as broad energy companies (Equinor, Total and Aker BP) and power utilities (Statnett, Statkraft and Elvia).

Contact at NTNU: Prof Kaveh Niyaesh,