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Increasing Role of Power Electronics in Biomedical Applications

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Ashok Bindra
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Use of electricity in surgery goes back more than a century. Since then researchers and scientists have advanced the field to enable modern electrosurgery to pass alternating current with a fundamental frequency above 0.2 MHz but lower than 5 MHz through the human body to conduct clinical treatment, such as cutting, coagulation, and fulguration, and more. With advances in power electronics, dedicated electrosurgery generators have evolved considerably from their older versions in terms of size, weight, functionality, galvanic isolation, protection for safety, attachment detection, and in multitude of other aspects.

Power electronics has continued to play an important role in the advancement of medical equipment. Today, modern electrosurgery equipment has been fortified with various functions that support a wide range of surgical effects including but not limited to cutting, coagulation, desiccation, fulguration, spray, and more. In addition, power electronics has also enabled the progressive miniaturization of such machinery in terms of size and weight. The advent of wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor based higher-switching frequency and reduced-loss power electronics has further facilitated this miniaturization.

In the first cover feature article “Power-Electronics Enabled Precision-Power Electrosurgery” by Sudip K. Mazumder, Congbo Bao, and Ankit I. Mehta, the authors show that power-electronics based electrosurgery is a promising alternative to conventional surgery for several surgical applications. Because WBG based high frequency inverter is playing an important role here, it must be carefully designed and operated, indicates the article. In addition, with the advancements in computation, memory, sensing, and estimation, the authors demonstrate further granularity in control and reduction in collateral damage. Finally, with regard to future work, the authors are currently working on extending the advancements achieved so far to added functions of electrosurgery including coagulation, cutting and/or soft coagulation, blending, etc. Plus, another effort of the team is focused on extending the current work for experimental validations.

In the second cover article “Configurable Power for Big Iron Medical” by Dermot Flynn and Chris Jones, the authors explore power supply design and operational requirements of big iron medical systems, and present how configurable, medically certified power supplies can be used to meet these requirements while simplifying system design.

The third feature article “A Reconfigurable Power Processor for Electric Vehicle Facilitating both Wired and Wireless Charging” by Soumya Ranjan Meher and Rajeev Kumar Singh, the authors propose a reconfigurable power processor (RPP) for EV application that replaces three separate power processors for propulsion, wired charging, and wireless charging. Thus, the size, volume, and weight of the power processors deployed in an EV are reduced. Plus, the analysis shows that the cost of the EV is also reduced by using the proposed RPP. A new topology for the transmitting-side converter is also suggested in this article for wireless charging mode.

As researchers and scientists search for sustainable development goals, the energy and transportation sectors are undergoing significant transformations. In the fourth article “Deep Learning Defined Power Electronic Converters” by Shreedhar Madichetty, M.V. Siva Prasad, K. S. Suprabhath, Ramana Anchuri, and Sukumar Mishra, the authors aim to introduce deep learning control within the realm of power electronics. Consequently, this article presents design, development, and implementation of deep learning algorithms in microcontroller for power electronic applications with minimum computational complexity and memory.

In the next feature “Meet the Micro-MMC,” the authors Chuantong Hao, Junwei Cao, Peizhou Xia, Stephen J. Finney, and Michael M. C. Merlin propose a benchtop-scale, low-voltage, open-source, and affordable hardware prototype of a modular multilevel converter (MMC) intended for research and teaching applications. As a result, the article details the setup process of the μ MMC into a three-phase inverter to demonstrate its versatility and potential as a teaching and research tool.

Finally, the last feature “Learning with Your PETS” by Drazen Dujic, Andrea Cervone, Renan Pillon Barcelos, Jules Mace, and Max Dupont, the authors present the method and tools used by the Power Electronics Laboratory at EPFL in teaching digital control in power electronics at the Master’s level. Here, learning objectives and paths taken to achieve them are presented in a general way, while more details are presented regarding the equipment that is developed to support the courses and provide a rich learning experience for the students.

Columns, News, and More

In the column President’s Message, IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) president Brad Lehman gives an update that reveals a year filled with exciting developments and significant milestones. According to Lehman, “These achievements are testament to the growing global community of passionate power electronics enthusiasts.” Likewise, in the PSMA Corner, Renee Yawger is expecting the IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC) 2024 to be another record-breaking event for the power electronics industry. While in the Patent Reviews, Trishan Esram explains in a simple way the definition of a patent, an intellectual property, and an intangible asset.

The Women in Engineering column by Stephanie Watts Butler presents the most recent Power at the Table Fireside Chat with Kunal Girotra, CEO and founder of Lunar Energy. In this column, Girotra shares insight from his entrepreneurial journey starting from process engineer at Samsung to ultimately founding clean energy start-up Lunar Energy. In the Industry Pulse, Kristen Parrish looks over the shoulders of silicon giants to see how SiC is ramping capacity, and where silicon stands in this transformation.

Furthermore, in the White Hot column, Bob White investigates complexity versus simplicity in power electronics. After examining some popular circuits and topologies, it appears to him that complexity, like beauty, might lie in the eye of the beholder.

Meanwhile, in the column “Students and Young Professionals Rendezvous,” the authors, Fei Wang, Chen Xu, Xiaokang Zhang, Kai Sun, Zhiheng Lin, Nayara Brand ao de Freitas, and Joseph P. Kozak, present an overview of the PELS sponsored second IEEE PELS Students and Young Professionals symposium (SYPS 2023), which was successfully held in Shanghai, China. As usual, the Society News brings activities from PELS chapters and student branches around the world, and the “Event Calendar” provides a year’s listing of PELS sponsored conferences and workshops.

Next year, the magazine celebrates its tenth anniversary. Thank you for supporting the PELS magazine for last ten years. Advertisers are coming back. Plus, our commitment to bringing timely articles, columns and news of interest and value to practicing power electronics engineers worldwide is getting stronger year over year. To serve you better and keep this magazine a valuable resource for working power electronics engineers around the world, we look forward to your feedback and suggestions. Now, we have a website, which is in the process of redesign to offer more than what is in the print, and where you can easily provide your feedback. Stay safe and healthy.

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