Development of MEMS power inductors with submicron laminations using an automated electroplating system
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The objective of the proposed research is to use MEMS technology to develop low profile power inductors with minimized eddy current losses to be used in high power density compact switching converters. Eddy currents arise in high-flux density metallic cores as increased switching frequencies of DC-DC converters cause the skin depth to be small compared with the core thickness. Laminations can reduce the eddy current losses but converters operating with switching frequencies in the MHz regime may require submicron laminations. Previous research has been done to fabricate inductors with micron-scale laminated cores for high frequency switching converters. To optimize the previous fabrication technique, an automated electroplating system was developed for the fabrication of thick magnetic cores comprising large number of submicron laminations without human intervention. Inductors with higher inductance, quality factor and power handling capacity have been realized compared to previously developed inductors. The inductors are characterized in terms of saturation behavior and power handling capability. A miniaturized DC-DC converter with power conversion capacity of 10 Watts has been demonstrated using the fabricated inductor.