Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level



Electrical Engineering


Juan Balda

Committee Member

Alan Mantooth

Second Committee Member

Yue Zhao

Third Committee Member

David Huitink


converter design;power density;power electronics;traction


This dissertation presents a design strategy to increase the power density for automotive Power Conversion Units (PCUs) consisting of DC-DC and DC-AC stages. The strategy significantly improves the volumetric power density, as evident by a proposed PCU constructed and tested having 55.6 kW/L, representing an 11.2 % improvement on the Department of Energy’s 2025 goal of 50 kW/L for the same power electronics architecture. The dissertation begins with a custom magnetic design procedure, based on optimization of a predetermined C-core geometrical relationship and custom Litz wire. It accounts for electrical and thermal tradeoffs to produce a magnetic structure to best accomplish volume and thermal constraints. This work is coupled with a control strategy for the DC-DC converter whereby a variable-frequency Discontinuous Conduction Mode (DCM) control is used to further reduce the required values of the passive components, to provide an increase in power density and a large improvement of low-power-level efficiency, experimentally demonstrated at full power through an 80 kW Interleaved Boost Converter. Integration of this enhanced DC-DC stage to the DC-AC stage requires a DC-Link capacitor, which hinders achieving power density targets. Increasing the switching frequency is an established method of reducing the size of passives. However, it is the RMS current sizing requirements that diminishes any gains achieved by raising the switching frequency. A synchronous carrier phase shift-based control algorithm, that aligns the output current of the boost stage with the input current of an inverter, is proposed to reduce the RMS current in the DC-Link capacitor by up to 25% and an average 20% smaller capacitor volume. Lastly, a new electrothermal platform based on paralleled discrete devices is presented for a 50 kW traction inverter. Embedded capacitors within the vacant volume of the hybrid material thermal management structure enables higher power density (155 kW/L) and significantly reduces cost.