Class-E rectifiers and power converters: the operation of the class-E topology as a power amplifier and a rectifier with very high conversion efficiencies
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In the late 70’s, the interest in reducing the value and size of reactive components moved power supply specialists to operate dc-to-dc converters at hundreds of kHz or even MHz frequencies. Passive energy storage (mainly magnetics) dominates the size of power electronics, limiting also its cost, reliability and dynamic response. Motivated by miniaturization and improved control bandwidth, they had to face the frequency-dependent turn-on and turn-off losses associated with the use of rectangular waveforms in the hard-switched topologies of that time. Similar to approaches for RF/microwave power amplifiers (PAs), the introduction of resonant circuits allowed shaping either a sinusoidal voltage or current, with parasitic reactive elements absorbed by the topology in the neighborhood of the switching frequency. The resulting resonant power converters, obtained by cascading a dc-to-ac resonant inverter with a high-frequency ac-to-dc rectifier, first transform the dc input power into controlled ac power, and then convert it back into the desired dc output .
This paper provides some historic notes on the operation of the class-E topology, introduced worldwide to the RF/microwave community by Nathan O. Sokal , as a power inverter and as a rectifier, with very high conversion efficiencies up to microwave frequencies. Recent research advances and implementations of class-E rectifiers and dc-to-dc converters at UHF and beyond are included. Offering competitive performance in terms of efficiency for RF power recovery, together with a wide bandwidth for low-loss power conversion, their potential for some modern applications is highlighted.