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It will survive a pulse of 7A at 20V just fine as long as it’s only 10 microseconds long. If the pulse is short enough, the FET will not heat up much and therefore survive just fine.
On page 4, bottom right, there’s datasehet graph showing the maximum safe operating area SOA of the device. Mahendra Gunawardena 1, 9 The FET can’t get rid of that heat but will absorb it in its thermal mass instead, heating up a little.
DATASHEET IRLML5103TRPBF – International Rectifier MOSFET P Micro3
This current is limited by its internal output resistance since there doesn’t seem to be a limiting circuit according to the datasheet’s diagram of the output stage.
My thinking is this should lead to current peaks that easily exceed the driver’s 1A maximum peak current and damage lrlml2803 chip, but the evaluation board demonstrates that this is not the case, what am I missing? It’s not current that kills a FET, it’s overheating.
DATASHEET IRLMLTRPBF – International Rectifier MOSFET P Micro3 | eBay
The current might be internally limited. Without a gate resistor the only thing limiting the current is the gate driver’s output resistance, which is supposedly low, it would not be a good driver otherwise. So if you just short its output to ground, it will die. The Apps Engineer likely will not have access to any Fab details.
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IRLML Datasheet(PDF) – International Rectifier
MOSFETs like the ones in the MIC’s output stage can handle large current pulses for a short time by simply absorbing the heat generated by the pulse in their thermal mass.
As long as irllm2803 doesn’t cause it to get hotter than its maximum junction temperature, no harm will be done. I would place a 0 ohm resistor there for future experimentation. It won’t be able to deliver 1A or more continuously, however – it can only do that for short pulses. The poly most modern processes use poly gates has some resistance; different Fabs have their own secret sauces.