SNVSA46B June 2014 – January 2018 LM46001
The first criterion for selecting an output inductor is the inductance itself. In most Buck converters, this value is based on the desired peak-to-peak ripple current, ΔiL, that flows in the inductor along with the DC load current. As with switching frequency, the selection of the inductor is a tradeoff between size and cost. Higher inductance gives lower ripple current and hence lower output voltage ripple with the same output capacitors. Lower inductance could result in smaller, less expensive component. An inductance that gives a ripple current of 20% to 40% of the 1 A at the typical supply voltage is a good starting point. ΔiL = (1/5 to 2/5) x IOUT. The peak-to-peak inductor current ripple can be found by Equation 13, and the range of inductance can be found by Equation 14 with the typical input voltage used as VIN.
D is the duty cycle of the converter which in a buck converter it can be approximated as D = VOUT / VIN, assuming no loss power conversion. By calculating in terms of amperes, volts, and megahertz, the inductance value comes out in micro Henries. The inductor ripple current ratio is defined by:
The second criterion is the inductor saturation current rating. The inductor must be rated to handle the maximum load current plus the ripple current:
The LM46001 has both valley current limit and peak current limit. During an instantaneous short, the peak inductor current can be high due to a momentary increase in duty cycle. The inductor current rating must be higher than the HS current limit. It is advised to select an inductor with a larger core saturation margin and preferably a softer rolloff of the inductance value over load current.
In general, choosing lower inductance in switching power supplies is preferable because it usually corresponds to faster transient response, smaller DCR, and reduced size for more compact designs. But too low of an inductance can generate too large of an inductor current ripple such that overcurrent protection at the full load could be falsely triggered. It also generates more conduction loss, since the RMS current is slightly higher relative that with lower current ripple at the same DC current. Larger inductor current ripple also implies larger output voltage ripple with the same output capacitors. With peak-current-mode control, it is not recommended to have too small of an inductor current ripple. Enough inductor current ripple improves signal-to-noise ratio on the current comparator and makes the control loop more immune to noise.
Once the inductance is determined, the type of inductor must be selected. Ferrite designs have very low core losses and are preferred at high switching frequencies, so design goals can concentrate on copper loss and preventing saturation. Ferrite core material saturates hard, which means that inductance collapses abruptly when the peak design current is exceeded. The ‘hard’ saturation results in an abrupt increase in inductor ripple current and consequent output voltage ripple. Do not allow the core to saturate!
For the design example, a standard 18-μH inductor from Wurth, Coiltronics, or Vishay can be used for the 3.3-V output with plenty of current rating margin.