An insulated-gate bipolar Transistor (IGBT) is a three-terminal power semiconductor device primarily used as an electronic switch, which, as it was developed, came to combine high efficiency and fast switching. It consists of four alternating layers (P–N–P–N) that are controlled by a metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) gate structure.
Although the structure of the IGBT is topologically the same as a thyristor with a “MOS” gate (MOS-gate thyristor), the thyristor action is completely suppressed, and only the transistor action is permitted in the entire device operation range. It is used in switching power supplies in high-power applications: variable-frequency drives (VFDs), electric cars, trains, variable-speed refrigerators, lamp ballasts, arc-welding machines, and air conditioners.
Since it is designed to turn on and off rapidly, the IGBT can synthesize complex waveforms with pulse-width modulation and low-pass filters, so it is also used in switching amplifiers in sound systems and industrial control systems. In switching applications modern devices feature pulse repetition rates well into the ultrasonic-range frequencies, which are at least ten times higher than audio frequencies handled by the device when used as an analog audio Amplifier. As of 2010, the IGBT is the second most widely used power transistor, after the power MOSFET.