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4, JULY 1997
High-Frequency Power Transformer
Model for Circuit Simulation
Enrico Dallago, Member, IEEE, Gabriele Sassone, and Giuseppe Venchi
AbstractA model for circuit simulation of transformers used
in high-frequency power processing is proposed. Many important
transformer effects are combined in a single formulation. An
AthertonJiles model with improved minor-loop handling ability
is employed to simulate the hysteresis effect in the magnetic core.
Eddycurrents and skin and proximity effects are simulated by
dynamically approximating the eld and ux distributions in
the entire structure. Leakage uxes, capacitive couplings, and
the inuence of temperature on electric and magnetic materials
are also included. The parameters needed for simulation are
magnetic-material characteristics, available in data sheets, core
geometry, and winding geometry. The model was implemented
(built) in the source code of SPICE3.
Index TermsModeling, simulation, SPICE, transformer.
RANSFORMERS and devices using ferromagnetic ma-
terials [1], [2] are widely employed in switched-mode
electronic systems for electric energy processing. The choice
of magnetic materials is wide, and the designer can choose
the most appropriate ones for the application. In the switching
power-supply eld [3], the operating frequency has been
increased toward the megahertz range to reduce weights and
dimensions of power-processing systems. Here, ferrites have
been almost exclusively used [4]. As a consequence, certain
phenomena usually not considered for low-frequency trans-
formers cannot be neglected any longer. Among these are skin
and proximity effects in the windings and eddycurrents in
the core, both of which contribute to power losses. A suitable
computer model to accurately simulate a high-frequency trans-
former should include the basic principle of operation, hystere-
sis, and high-frequency effects at the same time. Previously
presented models [5][9] only included a subset of all these
phenomena or dealt with the problem from a nonphysical point
of view. To gather the parameters required for simulation,
some kind of numerical tting or experimental results are
therefore needed.
The model presented was developed under a strictly physical
approach. This led to its two major characteristics: 1) the
model is composed of a magnetic circuit and an electric circuit
interacting with each other and 2) all the parameters needed
for the simulation are taken directly from the data sheets of the
magnetic core and from the winding geometry. It is evident
that the model will be valid if the physical dimensions are
Manuscript received February 19, 1996; revised November 14, 1996.
Recommended by Associate Editor, W. J. Sarjeant.
The authors are with the Power Electronics Laboratory, Department of
Electrical Engineering, University of Pavia, I 27100 Pavia, Italy.
Publisher Item Identier S 0885-8993(97)04977-6.
compatible with the hypothesis of lumped parameter systems.
In Section II, a general overview of the model is presented.
In Sections II-A and II-B, the magnetic circuit and electric
interface are described. Finally, in Section III, a validation of
the model is given.
In a transformer, close interaction between magnetic and
electric quantities takes place. To model this interaction, the
proposed equivalent circuit is composed of a magnetic circuit
[Fig. 1(a)] and an electric interface [Fig. 1(b)]. The magnetic
circuit models the distribution of uxes in the core and in the
space occupied by the windings and is used by the simulator
to calculate the effective uxes that link with the windings.
The electric interface models the electric variables, currents,
and voltages in the transformer windings. The derivatives of
the effective linked uxes represent the induced electromotive
forces in the windings and are used by the electric interface to
calculate the voltages at the winding terminals. On the other
hand, the currents that ow in the electric interface inuence
the magnetic eld ( ) in the core because (1) holds
where is the magnetic eld, is any closed path in the
space, and represents the generic current linked with path
. In particular, if the path links completely with a winding,
we have
where is the current in the winding and is the number
of turns of the winding.
At each iteration, the simulator needs to solve both circuits
at the same time. The analogy between electric and magnetic
quantities was exploited to allow SPICE to handle the mag-
netic circuit without the further complication of converting it
to its electrical equivalent.
The parameters that are required by the model are:
1) shape of the core (E, U, and POT cores and toroid);
2) dimensions of the core;
3) winding characteristics (number of turns and layers,
space between the windings, and space between the
windings and core);
4) winding disposition (concentric or stacked windings);
5) dimensions of the wires;
08858993/97$10.00 1997 IEEE
Fig. 1. (a) Magnetic part of the model. Nonlinear and frequency-dependent components are, respectively, enclosed in a rectangle and in an ellipse.
(b) Electric part of the model.
6) characteristics of the magnetic material (initial perme-
ability, saturation and residual ux density, saturation
and coercive eld, and core resistivity);
7) miscellaneous (copper conductivity and permittivity of
the dielectric).
Some of these parameters show a heavy dependence on
temperature, which needs to be included in the model. Wire
and core resistivity increase linearly with temperature over a
range that is wider than the main area of application of soft
ferrites (usually 25100 C). Initial permeability has a more
complex behavior, with a maximum near Curie temperature
and, sometimes, a second maximum in the range of 80100 C
[4]. In any case, the function can be linearized with good
approximation in the range of 2580 C. As far as saturation
ux density, residual ux density, and coercive eld are
concerned, the core manufacturer usually gives the values at
25 C and at 100 C. Even in this case, a linear variation with
temperature is assumed.
For a generic parameter , the value at temperature is
where is the value of at temperature and is the
linear temperature coefcient. A linear temperature coefcient
can be declared in the input le for any of the previously
described parameters.
All the data concerning the core and magnetic material can
be found in the manufacturers data sheets, while dimensions
of wire and windings are set by the designer. Every other
needed parameter is calculated by the simulator.
B. Description of the Magnetic Circuit
The equivalent magnetic circuit is built starting from the
plausible paths of magnetic uxes in the core, air, and space
occupied by the windings. Each path is analyzed in terms
of lumped parameters. To show how the magnetic circuit is
derived from the core geometry, let us consider, for instance,
the vertical section of a POT core with concentric windings
(Fig. 2). The symmetry of the core and position of the wind-
ings suggest that all the possible paths for the ux generated
by winding 1 are those shown in Fig. 2. Points AA and
BB can then be chosen as the magnetomotive-force reference
nodes of the structure. Fig. 2 also suggests that the effects of
the ux passing through different branches can be modeled
by assigning a proper reluctance to each branch. The nature
of each single lumped element is determined by the physical
phenomena that take place in each branch (eddycurrents in
the core, skin and proximity effects in the windings, etc.).
This leads to simple elements (i.e., frequency independent and
linear) and complex elements (i.e., frequency dependent and/or
nonlinear) [see Fig. 1(a)].
The magnetomotive-force source is represented by
the lumped generator placed near node A. This is, of
course, a strong approximation, since in the real case, the
magnetomotive-force source is completely distributed in
the space within the winding. A better approximation is
obtained if the winding leakage reluctances ( and
in Fig. 2) are divided in two parts placed on both sides of the
magnetomotive-force sources. Similar considerations apply
to the ux generated by the second winding and justify the
presence of a second generator.
The reluctances of the core ( ) are both nonlin-
ear (due to hysteresis) and frequency dependent (due to
eddycurrents). To model the eddycurrent effect, we need
to know the magnetic eld distribution in the core as a
function of frequency. The various core shapes can be divided
into ve elementary parts: 1) elements with a rectangular
section; 2) connection elements between rectangular sections;
3) elements with a circular section; 4) disc elements; and
5) connection elements between circular and disc elements.
The eld distribution is calculated for each of these parts
in an approximated way. Since the losses in the core due
to eddycurrents are smaller than those due to hysteresis,
a certain error can be tolerated. Furthermore, the magnetic-
Fig. 2. Vertical section of a POT core and ux paths.
material permeability is assumed to be constant. Once the
eld is known, the ux and reluctance of the element can
be calculated. For instance, the expression of the complex
reluctance of an element with a rectangular section is [see
Appendix A for the derivation of (4)]
If , (4) can be further reduced to
Equation (5) shows that the frequency-dependent part of the
reluctance does not depend on the permeability of the material
(justifying the approximation of constant permeability), but
depends heavily on the geometry of the element.
The assumption does not seem to be consistent with
the goal of modeling a high-frequency transformer. However,
lies in the megahertz range for typical values of , ,
and . Fig. 3 shows that this approximation will hold, even up
to nearly three or four times .
Equation (5) can be implemented in the simulator by
introducing a new circuit component (in the following
component) in series to . From (5), its branch equation in
time domain is
From a formal point of view and keeping in mind the
magnetic-to-electric analogy, (6) is the same as the branch
equation of the linear inductor
The component is treated as an inductor by the simulator,
so that SPICE can handle the component branch equation.
Once the component is known for each of the ve basic
elements, the component of a path in the core is simply
a combination of basic components in series or in parallel
according to whether the basic elements that constitute the
path are in series or in parallel. The components and
Fig. 3. Plots of (4) (normal line) and (5) (bold line).
calculated in this way model the frequency dependence of
and .
Fig. 4. Complete magnetic circuit. Nonlinear components are enclosed in a rectangle.
The dc reluctance of a core path is calculated in a similar
fashion by combining the dc reluctances of the basic parts.
At this point, the nonlinearities of the magnetic material are
inserted in the frequency-independent part of and . To
model hysteresis, the Atherton and Jiles approach is followed
[10]. This model has a differential equation formulation that
makes it suitable for implementation in a simulator designed
to work with arbitrary waveforms. However, if the equation is
directly solved, the minor loops obtained may have negative
slopes, which is a nonphysical behavior. The Atherton and
Jiles proposal [11] for calculating minor loops does not use
a differential equation and requires a priori knowledge of
the minor-loop turning points, hence, this method cannot be
applied to this case. The solution proposed in the present work
uses the equation reported in [10], even for minor loops as
well, but it does so by setting the derivative of the irreversible
part of the magnetization to zero when it would otherwise be
The reluctance of the core and its ux are recalculated at
each iteration of a transient analysis, while a small-signal
differential reluctance is calculated for ac analysis. As far
as ac analysis is concerned, it is important to note that with
the SPICE approach, the calculated frequency response is not
reliable. This is because the nonlinearities of the core manifest
themselves not only when the signals grow in amplitude, but
also when the operating frequency changes.
Skin and proximity effects are two aspects of the same
phenomenon, that is, the interaction between conductors and
varying magnetic elds. The skin effect takes place when the
current distribution in a conductor is modied by the magnetic
eld generated by the current owing in the conductor itself.
The proximity effect, on the other hand, is caused by elds
generated by the currents that ow into other conductors.
A winding with many turns usually needs to be wound in
multiple layers to t the core. These layers interact, producing
a mix of skin and proximity effect. By exploiting the previous
considerations, these two phenomena are modeled together,
calculating the eld distribution in a series of conductor
layers placed side by side. A strategy similar to that used
with eddycurrents is followed, but simplied because the
properties of copper are linear. Again, the winding complex
reluctance (for ) can be split into the series
of a frequency-independent reluctance (now linear) and
a component , which depends on the geometry of the
windings and number of layers.
Flux paths in the air between the windings and between
the windings and core are modeled using the three reluctances
, , and .
The presence of gaps is modeled with a reluctance in series
to the core reluctances ( and ). When all these
analyses are applied to the circuit in Fig. 1(a), the circuit
of Fig. 4 is obtained. If the windings are placed above each
other, the magnetic circuit varies slightly ( and are
placed differently), but the basic principle remains the same.
It can be shown that the magnetic circuit is the same for E,
U, and POT cores, while it can be simplied for toroids.
B. Description of the Electric Interface
The electric interface is shown in Fig. 1(b), and its analysis
is quite straightforward. The interactions with magnetic phe-
nomena are modeled via two voltage sources controlled by the
derivatives of the uxes linked by each winding [
and (see Appendix B for the denition of
and )]. Using the magnetic-to-electric analogy, these two
generators become current-controlled voltage sources. The
dc conductances of the wires are modeled with resistors
and in series with the ideal windings represented
by the voltage sources. The parasitic capacitances between
turns of the windings are modeled with and .
and model the coupling between the two windings. In
particular, the values of and are calculated by evaluating
the equivalent capacitance of the capacitive-ladder network
associated with each winding.
The model has been extensively tested. Some transformers,
built with different core shapes and magnetic materials, were
used to compare experiments and simulations. The experi-
mental results reported here regard a transformer employing a
Siemens/Matsushita N67 soft-ferrite E 13/4 core, with staked
windings composed of four turns each. A 100-kHz sinusoidal
voltage was applied to the primary winding, and the primary
current was measured with a current probe. The secondary
voltage was elaborated with an active integrator to obtain
a quantity proportional to the ux in the core. Since the
Fig. 5. Comparison of experimental (normal line) and simulated (bold line)
magnetizing current waveforms at 200 mT.
Fig. 6. Comparison of experimental (normal line) and simulated (bold line)
hysteresis loops at 200 mT.
secondary winding can be considered open in rst approxima-
tion, the primary current may be assumed as the magnetizing
current. All the quantities of interest were sampled with a
digital-storage oscilloscope. The core is of the ungapped type,
but since the mechanical coupling of the two halves is not
ideal, a small gap of about 8 m was adopted in the simulation.
This value has the same order of magnitude as the one
reported on core data sheets [4]. Furthermore, a temperature
of 60 C was declared in the simulation to account for the
rise in temperature of the core due to the high levels of
ux density. Experimental results and simulations for two
different values of ux density are presented. Fig. 5 shows
the magnetizing current when the voltage applied produces a
maximum magnetic ux density of 200 mT, while in Fig. 6 the
hysteresis-loop shape under the same conditions is reported.
Fig. 7. Comparison of experimental (normal line) and simulated (bold line)
magnetizing current waveforms at 300 mT.
Fig. 8. Comparison of experimental (normal line) and simulated (bold line)
hysteresis loops at 300 mT.
Fig. 7 shows the magnetizing current when the applied voltage
produces a maximum magnetic ux density of 300 mT, while
in Fig. 8, the pertinent hysteresis-loop shape is given. These
results show that the simulated magnetizing current is in good
agreement with the measured current, while the hysteresis-
loop shape is affected by greater deviation. In particular, the
simulated loop tends to be squared at the tips, while the
measured loop has a tapered shape. This behavior is due to the
solution adopted to evaluate minor loops. In [12], one possible
solution to this problem has been proposed.
A novel model for transformers used in high-frequency
power applications has been presented. The model reproduces
the interaction between electric and magnetic quantities that
Fig. 9. Magnetic element with square section.
takes place in a real transformer with good accuracy. A
comprehensive selection of important transformer effects is
covered. In particular, a sound, albeit complex, model of
hysteresis is included, and the problems ensuing from its
implementation are solved. Eddycurrents and proximity effect
are modeled by starting from the physics of the problem.
The numerical simulation can be carried out with an arbitrary
waveform. These properties make it suitable for simulating
high-frequency power-processing systems. Besides this, the
required parameters can easily be obtained from data sheets
and winding geometry. Hence, the designer can rapidly check
how different cores and winding congurations inuence the
operation of the system without wasting time tting the model
and without assembling prototypes. Comparison between sim-
ulations and experimental results with different core materials
shows that the model is reliable and quite accurate.
In Appendix A, the derivation of (4) is presented. Let us
consider an element with a square section with the surrounding
variable eld directed as the axis of the element (Fig. 9). Since
we assume that the current paths have an almost cylindrical
symmetry and the following equation holds
we can approximate the eld distribution for the square-section
element to that of a cylinder whose diameter equals the length
of the side of the square. The eld distribution in the cylinder
can be further approximated inside an innite plate of width
by turning it around the axis.
The following formula is obtained:
Fig. 10. Schematic used to study proximity effect.
where is the permeability of the
magnetic material, is its conductivity, and is .
At this point, the ux through the section can be calculated
Since , we have
where is the dc reluctance of the element and
is a characteristic angular frequency of the
If the section is rectangular, and will have different
values, but here we assume that (A4) is still valid.
In this Appendix, the proof of the formula used to calculate
the ux that effectively links with the windings is presented.
For instance, let us consider the single-layer inner winding
of a transformer with concentric windings. The equivalent
magnetic circuit is still the one shown in Fig. 1(a). From
Fig. 2, it can be noted that the uxes in the paths associated
with and are certainly linked with the winding since
they are completely internal to the coil. On the other hand, the
contribution of the ux in the copper layer ( in Fig. 2) to
the effective linked ux is not straightforward. If were
linked completely by the winding, then the effective linked
ux would be
To study the problem with greater accuracy, let us imagine
cutting the shape of the winding (a hollow cylinder) along its
height and straightening it until it assumes the parallel-piped
shape like the one in Fig. 10 ( equals the length of a turn). It
is assumed that the magnetic eld distribution in both shapes
will be the same under the same boundary conditions. At low
frequency, the eld distribution is
The ux linked by copper is
where gives the number of turns per
unit length in the -turn winding as a function of .
Equation (B3) leads to
Observe the following.
1) The reluctance of the winding in the magnetic cir-
cuit was divided into two parts on both sides of the
magnetomotive-force generator.
2) is the reluctance of each of these
3) and are the magnetomotive
forces of these branches, and we have
Finally, the expression for and is
for (B6)
This procedure can be repeated with the following eld-
distribution expression, which is valid at any frequency and,
in the case of multiple layers, is
The resulting formula for and can be approximated
to (B6) with an acceptable error.
The authors wish to thank Dr. A. Brigati for suggestions
and support in the initial phase of this work.
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Enrico Dallago (M87) was born in 1949 in
Bolzano, Italy. He received the Dr. Ing. degree
in electrical engineering from the University of
Pavia, Pavia, Italy, in 1974.
Since 1975, he has been with the Department of
Electrical Engineering, University of Pavia, where
he is a Professor of Power Electronics. His research
interests include industrial and power electronics.
He is currently involved in circuit simulation,
high-frequency switching power conversion, power-
factor correction, and electronic-package thermal
Dr. Dallago is a Member of the Italian Electrical and Electronic Association
Gabriele Sassone was born in 1962 in Casale
Monferrato, Italy. He received the Dr. Ing. degree
in electronics engineering from the University of
Pavia, Pavia, Italy, in 1988.
In 1989, he joined the Department of Electrical
Engineering, University of Pavia, as a Dottorato di
Ricerca student, working on electrical drives and
switching power supplies. He has been an Assis-
tant Professor at the same University since 1992.
His research interests include the power electronics
eld and, particularly, the study of high-frequency-
switched power converters, semiconductor thermal analysis, electronic equip-
ment control, and signal processing.
Giuseppe Venchi was born in 1970 in Pavia, Italy.
He received the Dr. Ing. degree in electronics en-
gineering (Summa Cum Laude) from the University
of Pavia, Pavia, in 1996.
He is currently with the Department of Electrical
Engineering, University of Pavia.