For more than 3 million people in the United States, pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are life-changing technology they rely on. While both devices are implantable medical devices designed to improve the quality of life for people with heart arrhythmia, a condition where the heart beats irregularly, each devices serve a different purpose.
Today, millions of people around the world rely on pacemakers to help regulate their heart’s rhythm. A traditional pacemaker usually consists of a pulse generator that is about the size of a tea bag and implanted under the skin near the collarbone, and a wire, or lead, that runs through a blood vessel to the heart. The end of the lead has an electrode on it that touches the heart wall to deliver electrical impulses. However, in the last decade, innovations in pacemaker technology have led to the introduction of a new style of pacemaker, known as the leadless pacemaker, that is about 1/10th the size of a traditional pacemaker, or about the size of a vitamin (Figure 1).
Today, most converter circuits now include semiconductors and switches made of silicon carbide (SiC) instead of plain old silicon (Si). This is because when silicon and carbon are combined, the resulting material, SiC, has excellent mechanical, chemical, and thermal properties. Therefore, SiC-based converters can handle voltages up to 10 times greater than converters using just Si while also offering lower losses. These characteristics make these converters an excellent option for applications such as power electronics, industrial devices, and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. In this post, we dive into the advantages of using snubber circuits to protect SiC-based converters and discuss how to further increase these efficiencies by focusing on capacitor selection.