I just have a simple question that I can't find a simple answer to anywhere.

Is it possible to exceed the breakdown voltage of a power MOSFET (to short circuit it) without causing permanent damage?


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    \$\begingroup\$ Anything exceeding the specs is not guaranteed. (its not guaranteed to work, its also not guaranteed to fail, so it might work for some units). Also, to short a FET doesn't sound like exceeding its voltage. Perhaps best thing would be to provide a schematic. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Lee Jun 17 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ As long as you keep the current very low… \$\endgroup\$ – winny Jun 17 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ if you exceed the drain source breakdown with the FET off, it will avalanche. if you limit the avalanche current with eg. a megaohm resistor, nothing bad should happen. \$\endgroup\$ – tobalt Jun 17 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that if you violate the gate-source or gate-drain voltage limits you may destroy the MOSFET even if the current is limited to a low value. \$\endgroup\$ – Elliot Alderson Jun 17 at 17:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @eescott please change your question from "is it possible" to something more specific. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Jun 17 at 17:56

Many MOSFETs are characterized to allow overvoltage and the subsequent breakdown of drain to source provided the energy limits in avalanche are not exceeded. Provided you don't exceed these limits the device will not be damaged and will perform to the manufacturer's specification.

For example, this is a section of an IRFP254PBF power FET datasheet.

Both single event and repetitive event energies are listed. Provided you meet these limits the device will not be damaged.

IRFP254PBF Datasheet

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