Power electronics is the application of solid-state electronics to the control and conversion of electric power.

The first high-power electronic devices were mercury-arc valves. In modern systems, power conversion is performed with semiconductor switching devices such as diodes, thyristors, and transistors, pioneered by R. D. Middlebrook and others beginning in the 1950s. An AC/DC converter (rectifier) is the most typical power electronics device found in many consumer electronic devices, e.g., television sets, personal computers, battery chargers. The power range is typically from tens of watts to several hundred watts. In industry, a common application is the variable speed drive (VSD) that is used to control an induction motor. The power range of VSDs starts from a few hundred watts and end at tens of megawatts. Power electronics started with the development of the mercury-arc rectifier. It was used to convert AC into DC.

Power electronics are important in applications to power systems. Power electronic devices include high-power semiconductor devices used in rapid switching operations in protection devices like relays and circuit breakers. In the generation system of a power system, they are components of protection devices used in protecting generators and transformers. In transmission systems, they are key components of flexible alternating current transmission system (FACTS) devices used in increasing the power-transfer ...

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