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Welcome to Power Devices and Systems Group

The Power Devices and Systems Group of IMB-CNM was established in 1985, has developed his research continuously since then and currently consists of 22 people.

The Group has been considered and financed as a Consolidated Research Group by the Generalitat de Catalunya (2017-SGR-1384) in all calls for these grants since its creation (from 2000 to date).


Its activity focuses on the design, fabrication, characterization and integration of power semiconductor devices, optimized for developing reliable and energy efficient converters and electronic systems, operating even in harsh environments (high temperature, radioactive environments, etc.).


The devices developed by the group on different semiconductors (Si, SiC, GaN, diamond), are fabricated in the Clean Room of the IMB-CNM and cover various application fields (traction, protection, high frequency, space, high energy, etc.).

The research work of the Group also aims to transfer the developed technology to national and international industry sector. The Group has three main research lines:

    * Silicon Power Devices
    * Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Devices
    * Power Systems Integration and Reliability.

IMB-CNM through its Power Devices and Systems Group (PDS) is part of the following platfoms:


  • FUTURED - Plataforma Tecnológica Española de Redes Eléctricas as a research center:

  • XRE4S - R+D+I Network Energy for Society as research center:

Recent Publications

Origin of the Large Negative Electrocaloric Effect in Antiferroelectric PbZrO3

P. Vales-Castro, R. Faye, M.Vellvehi, Y.Nouchokgwe, X. Perpiñà, J.M.Caicedo, X. Jordà, K. Roleder, D. Kajewski, A. Perez-Tomas, E. Defay, G. Catalan

Physical Review B

We have studied the electrocaloric response of the archetypal antiferroelectric PbZrO3 as a function of voltage and temperature in the vicinity of its antiferroelectric-paraelectric phase transition. Large electrocaloric effects of opposite signs, ranging from an electrocooling of −3.5 K to an electroheating of +5.5 K, were directly measured with an infrared camera. We show by calorimetric and electromechanical measurements that the large negative electrocaloric effect comes from an endothermic antiferroelectric-ferroelectric switching, in contrast to dipole destabilization of the antiparallel lattice, previously proposed as an explanation for the negative electrocaloric effect of antiferroelectrics.

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.103.054112

Local Thermal Resistance Extraction in Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits

M. Vellvehi, X. Perpiñà, J. León, O. Aviñó-Salvadó, C. Ferrer and X. Jordà

IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics

The thermal resistance of a High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT) forming part of a Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) is non-invasively extracted under real working conditions (electrical and thermal) by infrared thermal imaging. The HEMT thermal resistance considers the device local maximum temperature and dissipated power. An experimental approach to this end is currently not available, as the HEMTs thermal interaction does not allow extracting its individual heat generation. Thanks to thermal field confinement offered by heat source frequency modulation, the power dissipation in each device is inferred, making feasible its individual thermal resistance extraction. As a result, reasonable values of the local thermal resistance of each individual HEMT integrated in the MMIC (i.e., 57.8±3.4 °C/W and 24.8±1.4 °C/W) are obtained in agreement with studies on discrete devices available in the literature

DOI: 10.1109/TIE.2020.3040684 

Power module electronics in HEV/EV applications: New trends in wide ban-dgap semiconductor technologies and design aspects


A. Matallana, E. Ibarra, I. López, J. Andreu, J.I. Garate, X. Jordà, J. Rebollo

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

A large number of factors such as the increasingly stringent pollutant emission policies, fossil fuel scarcity and their price volatility have increased the interest towards the partial or total electrification of current vehicular technologies. These transition of the vehicle fleet into electric is being carried out progressively. In the last decades, several technological milestones have been achieved, which range from the development of basic components to the current integrated electric drives made of silicon (Si) based power modules. In this context, the automotive industry and political and social agents are forcing the current technology of electric drives to its limits. For example, the U.S Department of Energy’s goals for 2020 include the development of power converter technologies with power densities higher than 14.1 kW/kg and efficiencies greater than 98%. Additionally, target price of power converters has been set below $3.3/kW. Thus, these goals could be only achieved by using advanced semiconductor technologies. Wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, and, most notably, silicon carbide (SiC) based power electronic devices, have been proposed as the most promising alternative to Si devices due to their superior material properties. As the power module is one of the most significant component of the traction power converter, this work focuses on an in-deep review of the state of the art concerning such element, identifying the electrical requirements for the modules and the power conversion topologies that will best suit future drives. Additionally, current WBG technology is reviewed and, after a market analysis, the most suitable power semiconductor devices are highlighted. Finally, this work focuses on practical design aspects of the module, such as the layout of the module and optimum WBG based die parallelization, placement and Direct Bonded Copper (DBC) routing.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2019.109264



CPT1C in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus is necessary for brown fat thermogenesis activation in obesity

R. Rodríguez-Rodríguez, C. Miralpeix, A. Fosch, M. Pozo, M. Calderón-Domínguez, X. Perpinyà, M. Vellvehí, M. López, L. Herrero, D. Serra and N. Casals.

Molecular Metabolism

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2018.10.010


Objective: Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1C (CPT1C) is implicated in central regulation of energy homeostasis. Our aim was to investigate whether CPT1C in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH) is involved in the activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis in the early stages of diet-induced obesity.
Methods: CPT1C KO and wild type (WT) mice were exposed to short-term high-fat (HF) feeding or to intracerebroventricular leptin administration and BAT thermogenesis activation was evaluated. Body weight, adiposity, food intake, and leptinemia were also assayed.
Results: Under 7 days of HF diet, WT mice showed a maximum activation peak of BAT thermogenesis that counteracted obesity development, whereas this activation was impaired in CPT1C KO mice. KO animals evidenced higher body weight, adiposity, hyperleptinemia, ER stress, and disrupted hypothalamic leptin signaling. Leptin-induced BAT thermogenesis was abolished in KO mice. These results indicate an earlier onset leptin resistance in CPT1C KO mice. Since AMPK in the VMH is crucial in the regulation of BAT thermogenesis, we analyzed if CPT1C was a downstream factor of this pathway. Genetic inactivation of AMPK within the VMH was unable to induce BAT thermogenesis and body weight loss in KO mice, indicating that CPT1C is likely downstream AMPK in the central mechanism modulating thermogenesis within the VMH. Quite opposite, the expression of CPT1C in the VMH restored the phenotype.
Conclusion: CPT1C is necessary for the activation of BAT thermogenesis driven by leptin, HF diet exposure, and AMPK inhibition within the VMH. This study underscores the importance of CPT1C in the activation of BAT thermogenesis to counteract diet-induced obesity.



Short-Circuit Study of Medium Voltage GaN Cascodes, P-GaN HEMTs and MISHEMTs


M. Fernández, X. Perpiñá, J. Roig, M. Vellveh, F. Bauwens, M. tack and X. Jordà.

IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, 64 (11), pp. 9012-9022 (2017)

This paper studies by experimentation and physics-based simulation the Short-Circuit (SC) capability of several normally-off 600-650 V Gallium Nitride High-Electron-Mobility Transistors (GaN HEMTs): cascodes, p-GaN, and GaN Metal-Insulator-Semiconductor HEMTs (MISHEMTs). As a result, cascodes present the worst SC ruggedness. By contrast, p-GaN gate HEMTs and MISHEMTs provide a higher SC capability thanks to their strong drain current reduction. In addition, a valuable state-of-the-art about all commercially available technologies is also provided, which demonstrates that current GaN devices do not allow SC capability.

Link: doi.org/10.1109/TIE.2017.2719599

Thermal Management Strategies for Low and High Voltage Retrofit LED Lamp Drivers


X. Perpiñà, M. Vellvehi, R. J. Werkhoven,, J. Jakovenko, J. M. G. Kunen, P. Bancken, P. J. Bolt and X. Jordà

IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, early acces.

Several thermal management strategies for LED drivers designed for high lumen retrofit LED lamps are studied by simulation and experimentation means. Depending on the driver output, two scenarios are analyzed: Low Voltage-High Current (18V-620mA) and High Voltage-Low Current (110V-85mA). Experiments (infrared thermography and thermocouples) and multiscale simulation approaches are used to assist both the lamp and driver board thermal design, as well as the driver proper integration in the lighting system. As a result, a heatsink based on an Aluminum hollow cylinder with polymer axial fins is designed and evaluated. The heatsink assessement is carried out with an LED board, in which the LED junction temperature is modeled and extracted by monitoring the LED board backside temperature. Additional experimentation to better integrate the driver is performed aiming at reducing the contact thermal resistance between the driver and the heatsink and improving the heat removal in the driver housing by including a material with a high thermal conductivity (i.e., dry silica sand or magnesium oxide powder). The proposed solution reduces the LED junction temperature up to 18% with respect to a reference lamp, whereas both drivers depict working temperatures around or below 125°C, when a working temperature of 90°C is considered.

Link: doi.org/10.1109/TPEL.2018.2853119

Advanced processing for mobility improvement in 4H-SiC MOSFETs: A review


M. Cabello, V. Soler, G. Rius, J. Montserrat, J. Rebollo and P. Godignon

Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing (2017)

This paper reviews advanced gate dielectric processes for SiC MOSFETs. The poor quality of the SiO2/SiC interface severely limits the value of the channel field-effect mobility, especially in 4H-SiC MOSFETs. Several strategies have been addressed to overcome this issue. Nitridation methods are effective in increasing the channel mobility and have been adopted by manufacturers for the first generations of commercial power devices. Gate oxide doping techniques have also been successfully implemented to further increase the channel mobility, although device stability is compromised. The use of high-k dielectrics is also analyzed, together with the impact of different crystal orientations on the channel mobility. Finally, the performance of SiC MOSFETs in harsh environments is also reviewed with special emphasis on high temperature operation.

Link: doi.org/10.1016/j.mssp.2017.10.030

 Thermal phase lag heterodyne infrared imaging for current tracking in radio frequency integrated circuits


X. Perpiñà, J. León, J. Altet, M. Vellvehi, F. Reverter, E. Barajas, and X. Jordà

Applied Physic Letters, 110, 094101 (2017)

With thermal phase lag measurements, current paths are tracked in a Class A radio frequency (RF) power amplifier at 2 GHz. The amplifier is heterodynally driven at 440MHz and 2 GHz, and its resulting thermal field was inspected, respectively, at 1013 and 113 Hz with an infrared lock-in thermography system. The phase lag maps evidence with a higher sensitivity than thermal amplitude measurements an input-output loop due to a substrate capacitive coupling. This limits the amplifier’s performance, raising the power consumption in certain components. Other information relative to local power consumption and amplifier operation is also inferred. This approach allows the local non-invasive testing of integrated systems regardless of their operating frequency.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4977175.

News & Events

Job offers

Power Devices and Systems Group (PDS) offers 4 JAE-INTRO scholarships for introduction to research:

  • Reference: JAEINT21_EX_0622
  • Principal Investigator: Xavier Perpiñà Giribet
  • E-mail contact: xavier.perpinya@imb-cnm.csic.es
  • Formation Plan: Estudio de fenómenos electrotérmicos locales en dispositives semiconductores de potencia avanzados mediante termoreflectancia y electroluminiscencia.

  • Reference: JAEINT21_EX_0622
  • Principal Investigator: Miquel Vellvehi Hernández
  • E-mail contact: miquel.vellvehi@imb-cnm.csic.es
  • Formation Plan: Optimización del depósito de capas delgadas con alta emisividad y de un sistema de Termografía Infrarroja para el análisis de dispositivos de potencia.

  • Reference: JAEINT21_EX_0616
  • Principal Investigator: Gemma Rius Suñé
  • E-mail contact: gemma.rius@imb-cnm.csic.es
  • Formation Plan: Materiales y técnicas de Sensado mediante Micro/Nanofabricación, para la Exploración y Colonización Humana en el Espacio.

Dates: From March 10 (0:01h) to April 12 (23:59h)
More info: https://jaeintro.csic.es/es/


IMB-CNM collaborates in a project with 75 institutions from over 13 countries to improve reliability for electronic components

Friday, February 19th, 2021

Intelligent Reliability 4.0 (iRel40) is an international project to enhance the ECS reliability, a “must have” to fulfil customer demands and the needs of an increasingly more complex environment. Current electronic components and systems (ECS) are becoming more compact and complex every day, thus making more difficult to face the reliability analysis in them. Now, it is required to follow a holistic approach through the entire value chain of an ECS product, such as the material, chip, packaging and system. Typical function structure for data-driven PHM approach based on IoT systems, BDA and ML strategies.Intelligent Reliability 4.0 (iRel40) is an international project to enhance the ECS reliability, a “must have” to fulfil customer demands and the needs of an increasingly more complex environment, as the world transitions to complex systems with more electronics and autonomy in various application domains. It is happening with the new smart transport and mobility, the digital industries, the industrial production or the energy sector. In this framework and during 3 years, iRel40 connects 75 institutions from 13 European countries, including the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona through the Power Devices and Systems Group.


Read more



IMB-CNM becomes a member of the FutuRed Platform. The PDS Group participates in the presentation of the power electronics prospective document.

Friday, October 31st, 2020

FutuRed is a Spanish Technological Platform of Electrical Grids created for integrating all the agents involved in the electricity sector, to define and promote strategies at national level allowing the consolidation of a more advanced network capable of responding to future challenges. The IMB-CNM has recently became a member of FutuRed through its PDS research group.


The PDS Group participated on October 28 in a webinar to present the power electronics prospective document prepared by the FutuRed platform. Power electronics is called to play a fundamental role in the energy transition, and the document addresses the main strengths and challenges regarding this technology from a national perspective.





Collaboration agreement between the PDS Group of the IMB-CNM and the ePowered RACING of the EEBE-UPC

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

At the end of July, a collaboration agreement was signed between the Power Devices and Systems Group (PDS) of the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics - National Center for Microelectronics (IMB-CNM), and the ePowered RACING team from the Barcelona East School of Engineering (EEBE) at the UPC. The agreement has been conveyed through the association of economic interest (A.I.E.) D + T Microelectronics, responsible for the commercial management of the Clean Room of the IMB-CNM. EEBE’s Powered RACING is a team of young engineering students that aims to design and manufacture a 100% electric motorcycle to participate in the MotoStudent competition. The PDS group of the IMB-CNM has been carrying out its research work for more than 30 years on power semiconductor devices, the key element needed to develop electronic circuits that allow the control of electrical energy (known as converters) used in a wide range of applications: electric traction, battery chargers, industrial actuators, induction cookers, etc. With this collaboration agreement, the PDS group will support the members of ePowered RACING as well as provide them the possibility of developing their curricular practices in a research environment related to power electronics.

Related web-sites:
PDS Group: http://power.imb-cnm.csic.es/
IMB-CNM(CSIC): http://www.imb-cnm.csic.es/index.php/en/
ePowered RACING: https://epoweredracing.eebe.upc.edu/inici.html
D+T Microelectrònica: http://www.dtm.es/

From left to right, Pau Guàrdia (co-leader of the electronics department of ePowered RACING), Alquema Mohammad (member of this department) and Xavier Jordà (leader of the PDS Group) at the IMB-CNM during the signing of the collaboration agreement.



BepiColombo takes last snaps of Earth en route to Mercury

Friday, April 10th, 2020

The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission completed its first flyby on 10 April, as the spacecraft came less than 12 700 km from Earth’s surface at 06:25 CEST, steering its trajectory towards the final destination, Mercury. Images gathered just before closest approach portray our planet shining through darkness, during one of humankind’s most challenging times in recent history. In this mission, there are 700 protection diodes for the photovoltaic cells of the solar panels designed and fabricated at IMB-CNM facilities. 

 Read more

 IMB-CNM Talks: Overview of research activities @ G2ELab (Power Electronics) by Prof. Jean-Christophe Crebier

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020



Silicon Carbide components of the IMB-CNM, go back into space

The Instituto de Microelectrónica de Barcelona - Centro Nacional de Microelectrónica (IMB-CNM) that belongs to Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), has developed and fabricated one of the electronic components of Silicon Carbide for the joint space mission of NASA and the ESA, Solar Orbiter. These devices are protection diodes of the photovoltaic cells of the solar panels, and they are essential to guarantee the energy supply in the ship. Located next to the solar panels to protect them in case of failure of one of the cells, they are prepared to withstand extremely high temperatures.


The ship will be exposed to temperatures of more than 400 ºC. However, the solar panels are inclined so that the exposure is not so direct and will "only" receive up to a maximum of 350 ºC. These components use the same technology that scientists, members of the IMB-CNM Group of Power Devices and Systems, had already developed for an earlier mission, the BepiColombo. This time, scientists have adapted some parameter in the design to meet the environmental conditions of this new mission.

The ship was launched on February 10, 2020 at 4:03 UTC aboard a NASA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United States.

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Components designed and manufactured at IMB-CNM will travel to Mercury 

Electronic components designed and manufactured at the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics (IMB-CNM) travel to Mercury in the BepiColombo mission, whose launch, on board the Ariane-V, is scheduled for next Saturday, October 20, from Kourou (Guyana French). As reported by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, of which the IMB-CNM is a part, there are 700 protection diodes for the photovoltaic cells of the solar panels of the two probes that this joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) will leave Mercury in orbit in 7 years to explore that planet. 

These 700 protection diodes will be exposed to very extreme temperatures, from 300 ° C during 'day' to 150 ° C below zero at 'night', and are located next to the solar panels to protect them in the event of a cell failure. In order for the devices to withstand these extreme conditions, the team led by Professor Philippe Godignon has developed the diodes with Silicon Carbide (SiC), a new semiconductor that is replacing silicon in many applications of power electronics such as, for example , the electric car. ALTER Technology from Madrid has also participated in this project, carrying out tests and qualification for the diode space.


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IMB-CNM Talks: Reliability testing methodology and lifetime modelling by Prof. Zoubir Khatir

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Zoubir Talks 



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