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Seco Tools 3D manufacturing creates new opportunities

ELE Times - Wed, 03/22/2023 - 11:28

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, allows Seco Tools to create products that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to manufacture. The advantages include shorter lead times, improved tool life and increased sustainability.

The development and manufacture of prototypes for metal-cutting machining by means of additive manufacturing (AM) is becoming increasingly commonplace in the operations of Seco Tools. One of the main strengths of this manufacturing method is the possibility of making specialized customer-specific tools and solutions that are difficult to achieve through conventional manufacturing. Above all, AM technology will come into its own when producing tools that must be designed in a special way. This may involve complex geometries or other customizations to customer-specific needs.

Examples of such customizations include making the tools lighter, which improves the vibration-dampening properties, or provide them with better cooling possibilities. “By directing the coolant to hit the cutting edge at just the right place, we can significantly extend the tool’s useful life. With AM technology, coolant can be guided to locations that would otherwise have been impossible,” explains Ingemar Bite, R&D Specialist at Seco Tools, who also believes that AM technology is helping to shorten lead times. “AM allows for us to produce geometries that require less manufacturing steps, which often results in shorter lead times and thereby, faster deliveries.”

Increased sustainability
AM technology will also open up the possibility of repairing broken tools in the future, by removing dysfunctional components and printing them anew. This could, for example, involve tool components or the reuse of different types of machine-side connections. This is particularly a good idea in terms of the environment and sustainability. Another advantage with AM technology, compared with traditional manufacturing in this context, is that there is less waste of materials. Overall, not as much material is used for AM manufacturing and any leftover powder can be reused.

Additive manufacturing could thus be a time-efficient and cost-efficient method for one-of-a-kind production and prototype development. However, it could also work excellent for large-scale manufacture of standard products. Seco Tools is already manufacturing cooling clamps for its Jetstream tools through 3D printing. “The cooling clamps have a complex form with curved cooling channels and are thus well-suited to this type of manufacture,” says Ingemar Bite.

Continuous improvements
The R&D department at Seco Tools works continuously to improve the use of AM technology for the development and manufacture of new and existing products. The company is constantly looking into ways to improve its products and how to best utilize AM technology. “We like to collaborate with our customers on these efforts and to conduct tests together with them,” says Ingemar Bite, who is of the opinion that even the materials can be

developed. “The materials that are currently used in AM are no different in nature than those being used in conventional manufacturing, and the technology works well with many different metals. In the future, we will add even more and superior materials, while regularly adapting our equipment and upgrading hardware and software as needed,” he concludes.

Different methods can be used for additive manufacturing; the one that Seco Tools uses is called SLM (Selective Laser Melting). Here, lasers and a bed of metal powder are used to construct the products. In an SLM machine, a roughly 20–60 µm layer of powder is spread, and then processed by a laser. This process is repeated, layer by layer. Once all the layers are in place, the excess powder is removed and the product goes into post-processing for its final form.

Finishing Hybrid AM Tool on HSK100

Coolant Clamp Mounted in Turning Tool

With its origins in Fagersta, Sweden and present in more than 75 countries, Seco Tools is a leading global solution provider of metal cutting solutions for indexable milling, solid milling, turning, holemaking, threading and tooling systems. With the hands-on application advice of Seco Tools, the company drives excellence for more than 80 years throughout the entire manufacturing process of manufacturers by ensuring high-precision machining and high-quality output.

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Rohde & Schwarz Oscilloscope Days 2023 deliver expertise for day-to-day testing challenges

ELE Times - Wed, 03/22/2023 - 11:21

Engineers across the globe will once again have the opportunity to attend online theoretical and practical sessions and interactive discussions during the two-day Oscilloscope Days event, hosted by Rohde & Schwarz in April 2023. Experts will present the latest challenges in the industry and dive into how next-generation oscilloscopes meet daily testing needs, as well as educational sessions about oscilloscope fundamentals.

Following increasing global interest from electronics engineers, the popular Rohde & Schwarz Oscilloscope Days event will continue in 2023. The two-day event is scheduled for April 18 and 19 and will present a series of webinars from Rohde & Schwarz oscilloscope experts and specialists along with others from event partners Würth Elektronik and PE-Systems. The sessions will address the real-world challenges engineers face in a range of measurement applications.

Besides practical demonstrations of oscilloscope fundamentals, webinar attendees can meet experts from Rohde & Schwarz and partners. The Oscilloscopes Days event is free of charge with live webcasts streamed in English, German, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

Over the two days, attendees can learn about best practices for oscilloscope use as well as the latest on testing fundamentals. Each session lasts about 90 minutes with four sessions covering: Oscilloscope and probing fundamentals; Best practices on power electronics filter design and verification; How does power integrity affect signal integrity and which tools can be used for debugging; and Application based testing for power electronics and EMC debugging on flyback converters.

Andreas Grimm, Sales Director Global Oscilloscopes at Rohde & Schwarz, said, “Oscilloscopes are fundamental measurement tool for electronics engineers. As a manufacturer of state-of-the-art oscilloscopes, we aim to help engineers make the most of these universal instruments. Our popular Oscilloscope Days event offers interesting topics for everyone. Educational presentations look at the fundamentals for those new to the profession while other sessions examine the latest techniques and technologies. The event will give engineers the in-depth knowledge they need to meet an ever wider range of measurement challenges.”

For further information and to register for the Oscilloscopes Days event, please visit: https://www.rohde-schwarz.com/oscilloscope-days

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Quantum materials will power the electronics of the future

ELE Times - Wed, 03/22/2023 - 11:17

A research group has designed new quantum materials that can control the dynamics of electrons by curving the fabric of space in which they evolve.

The researchers, from the universities of Salerno, Utrecht and Delft, concluded that developing new information and communication technologies poses challenges in the industry. Designing these new quantum materials is the most promising way to meet these challenges.

These properties are of interest for next-generation electronic devices, including future optoelectronics.

How will these materials work in modern electronics?

Future telecommunications will require compelling electronic devices. They must be capable of processing electromagnetic signals in the picosecond range at unprecedented speeds, such as one-thousandth of a billionth of a second.

Current semiconductor materials, such as silicon – used in the electronic components of our telephones, computers, and game consoles – cannot produce these signals. Therefore, the scientists focused on a new set of quantum materials.

Thanks to their unique properties – such as the collective reactions of the electrons that compose them – these quantum materials have been developed to capture, manipulate and transmit information-carrying signals within new electronic devices. Moreover, they can operate in electromagnetic frequency ranges that have not yet been explored, opening the way to high-speed communication systems. This is a huge advance for quantum technology.

“One of the most fascinating properties of quantum matter is that electrons can evolve in a curved space. Due to this distortion of the space inhabited by the electrons, the force fields generate dynamics totally absent in conventional materials. This is an outstanding application of the principle of quantum superposition,” explained Andrea Caviglia, a professor at the Department of Quantum Matter Physics in the Faculty of Science of the UNIGE.

Controlling the curvature of the space fabric

After an initial theoretical study, the team designed a set of quantum materials in which the curvature of the space fabric is controllable.

“We have designed an interface hosting an extremely thin layer of free electrons. It is sandwiched between strontium titanate and lanthanum aluminate, which are two insulating oxides,” said Carmine Ortix, professor at the University of Salerno and coordinator of the theoretical study. This combination allows us to obtain particular electronic geometrical configurations which can be controlled on demand.

The research team used an advanced system for fabricating materials on an atomic scale to achieve this. Using laser pulses, each layer of atoms was stacked one after another.

In their paper, the researchers stated: “This method allowed us to create special combinations of atoms in space that affect the behaviour of the material.”

While the prospect of using these quantum materials in technology is still far off, this new material opens up new avenues in the exploration of very high-speed electromagnetic signal manipulation. These results can also be used to develop new sensors. The next step for the research team will be to observe further how this material reacts to high electromagnetic frequencies to determine, more precisely, its potential applications.

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ArkX Labs Touchless Voice Solutions Expands Distribution with EDOM Technology in Asia and India

ELE Times - Wed, 03/22/2023 - 11:10

ArkX Laboratories, a leading provider of advanced far-field voice capture and speech recognition technology, has added EDOM Technology to its expanded global distribution and sales network. Headquarters located in Taipei, EDOM represents ArkX Labs’ portfolio of production-ready EveryWord touchless voice technologies in the greater China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and India regions.

“We are excited to welcome EDOM Technologies to the ArkX Network,” said Tom Huffman, VP of Channel Sales for ArkX Labs. “With EDOM’s deep technical expertise and experienced management team, they are an ideal partner for our advanced voice capture and control product line.”

“EDOM is pleased to introduce ArkX Labs’ EveryWord portfolio to our clients,” said Wayne Tseng, Chairman of EDOM Technology. “Their advanced far-field voice technology is a great addition to our offerings. We look forward to cooperating with ArkX and providing clients with advanced voice control solutions for smart home and industrial applications.”

Featuring Cirrus Logic’s SoundClear FlexArray and Sensory technologies, the EveryWord portfolio includes an Audio Front End (AFE) Module, a Voice Module (System-on-Module + AFE), Development Kit, and Sensory Voice Control.

ArkX’s production-ready voice capture solutions outperform existing solutions in far-field voice capture and deliver a far-superior voice experience to consumers by capturing voice commands from three times the standard distance, around corners, in noisy and reflective environments, and without lowering playback volume.

Additionally, EveryWord technology provides a unique ability to identify and suppress speech from T.V. or other single-point noise sources.

EveryWord voice solutions can be customized for a company’s eco-system and applied to various products, including speakers, soundbars, televisions, appliances, voice controllers, and gadgets. The modules can be installed in hubs, ceilings, and in-wall for smart home or office applications.

EveryWord technology does not require source-ducking for reliable interaction, provides linear, circular, square, triangular, or 3-D mic array geometries, and requires fewer microphones. The technology features ultra-low power battery operation for wake-on-word, and the flexibility for placement of microphones allows for in-wall, ceiling, or dashboard solutions. The 3D mic array (unlike others’ linear beam-forming approach) enables fewer blind spots and increased performance while incorporating fewer redundant microphone arrays for coverage.

All ArkX solutions are Alexa-compatible and meet or exceed all requirements for the Amazon Voice Services (AVS) qualifications. In addition to Alexa, EveryWord is compatible with other platforms such as Google, Siri, Cortana, AliGenie, Baidu/Kitt.ai, Tencent, and Sensory.

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Mouser Electronics Supports FIRST Robotics Competition, Nurtures Future Engineers and Innovators

ELE Times - Wed, 03/22/2023 - 11:06

Mouser Electronics is excited to announce its continued sponsorship of FIRST Robotics Competition, which inspires innovation and fosters well-rounded life capabilities in tens of thousands of young people every year. During the 2022-23 FIRST Robotics Competition season, nearly 100,000 high-school students on more than 3,400 teams from across the world are learning, discovering, and solving engineering challenges through a series of robotics events.

“Since our founding, education has been a main facet of Mouser’s mission,” said Kevin Hess, Mouser’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. “We are very honored to once again be a sponsor of FIRST Robotics Competition, which we have proudly supported for a decade. The organization gives students around the world a platform for innovation, a chance to learn valuable engineering skills, and an opportunity to build character and self-esteem.”

Since 2014, Mouser has been a major supporter of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education through hands-on robotics programs. Mouser sponsors FIRST virtual and live competitions at the local, regional, state, and international levels. Joining Mouser in the sponsorship is valued manufacturer partner Analog Devices, Inc.

The global authorized distributor will be a major presenting co-sponsor of the FIRST® in Texas/UIL State Robotics Championships, planned for April 6-8 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. Mouser also supports FIRST teams in its community, providing grants for local high school teams.

Additionally, Mouser will continue its exclusive sponsorship of the Hall of Fame at the 2023 FIRST Championship, April 19-21 in Houston\. The Hall of Fame honors the winning FIRST Robotics Competition teams of the esteemed Impact Award, which rewards the teams who best exemplify the goals and values of FIRST.

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Mouser-Backed DS PENSKE Team Readies for First-Ever Formula E Race in Brazil

ELE Times - Wed, 03/22/2023 - 10:54

Mouser Electronics is excited to cheer on the DS PENSKE Formula E race team in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for round 6 of the 2022-23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. The race, which will be on March 25, will mark the first time the series makes a stop in Brazil.

The track in Sao Paulo will consist of three long straights connected by tricky chicanes with a total of 14 turns and a total distance of 2.96 KM. Sharp breaking and exciting chances to pass will keep everyone on their toes. Team drivers for the Sao Paulo race are Season 8 Champion Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time Formula E Champion Jean-Éric Vergne, fresh off his second-place finish in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mouser is supporting the DS PENSKE team for the globe-trekking 2022–23 season, in collaboration with TTI, Inc. and valued manufacturers Molex and KYOCERA AVX. Mouser and Molex have been partnering to sponsor Formula E racing since 2015.

Formula E is an international, fully electric street racing series the aspires to accelerate change towards an electric future, one race and one city at a time. Using the spectacle of world-class sport, The Formula E series sends a powerful and meaningful message to help alter perceptions and speed up the switch to electric mobility. Using the very latest technology, the DS Performance Team has stretched the boundaries of efficiency and performance with the DS E-TENSE powertrain and software. Racing is all about speed and endurance, and racing sponsorships are an innovative way for Mouser to communicate its performance-driven business model and promote the newest technologies from its manufacturer partners.

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Why Expanding the Potential of MCUs Needs a New Way of Thinking

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 21:20
Brendon Slade, Director General Purpose MCU Ecosystem, NXP

Microcontrollers (MCUs) have undergone numerous technological advances, from hardware cryptography to sophisticated graphics capabilities, and yet, in all of this time, software development has struggled to keep up. In this blog, learn about the challenges engineers face when it comes to software development on MCU platforms, how NXP plans to solve these challenges and why the power of choice is an essential part of the future for MCUs.

New Hardware Capabilities, Old Software Development

As with all electronics, microcontrollers have undergone massive changes since the first MCUs were introduced in the 1970s. The first truly commercially viable MCUs, such as the ubiquitous 8051, were based on 8-bit technologies and incorporated a few timers, a UART port, ADC, and if lucky, a DAC. These devices were incredibly simple, easy to understand, had a minimal instruction set and could be used easily with low-level languages, such as assembler.

Fast forward to 2023 and MCUs have undergone massive changes, with significantly larger memories, faster CPUs and countless peripherals ranging from advanced motor control to machine learning (ML) accelerators. However, one of the most significant changes that MCUs have seen is the increase in complexity in their internal architecture, and this has made modern MCUs very challenging to code from scratch without the help of drivers to provide abstraction from the underlying hardware.

To help engineers coding modern MCUs, software solutions and tools are widely available to eliminate the need for register-level programming, including drivers and advanced configuration tools. While these tools are essential for getting projects to work, the software infrastructure used to code MCUs has not advanced to the same degree as the hardware, resulting in a significant technological gap between software and hardware.

What software challenges exist for MCUs?

No matter the platform, software development on MCUs faces a multitude of challenges, including locked platforms, limited portability, fragmentation, lack of open-source support, restrictions to developer freedom and a lack of standardization.

To start, most MCU platforms typically lock engineers to that platform because of the effort involved to port code elsewhere, making it very time consuming to move to another architecture or vendor, even if the processor core (such as Arm® Cortex-M®) used by these platforms is the same. While this may not be problematic for simpler projects that don’t utilize the full capabilities of the MCU or its peripherals, it can be devastating for projects that need to switch to a different manufacturer due to changing hardware requirements. Where OEMs have a broad range of products ranging across price and power needs, using a range of diverse MCUs may be unavoidable so the cost of maintaining what are, essentially, multiple code bases can be very high.

Another software challenge that can affect engineers is the stark differences in IDEs. It is common for engineers to work with numerous devices across various manufacturers as each device will be particularly well suited for specific applications. But with each platform, an engineer must learn how that IDE works, where tools are located and how to get projects running. Thus, it can be immensely time consuming for an engineer to keep up with new changes in each development environment.

Furthermore, it is rare for an MCU vendor to support more than one free IDE platform, and most of these are based around Eclipse, which is recognized as an industry workhorse for software development. Eclipse is a highly popular IDE and has been customized very effectively for ease of use by some vendors, but it can impose extensive CPU and memory resource requirements due to its Java-based core. By comparison, Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is extremely lightweight and fast, explaining why many engineers are choosing it over other development environments.

IAR, and Arm Keil, long-established experts in the premium development tools space, offer IDEs that provide their own spin on specialist debugging capabilities, as well as high-performance optimizing compilers and safety certification. These Platinum-level NXP partners work closely with us to enable support for their tools out of the box with MCUXpresso SDK software packages. Even these development tool powerhouses have acknowledged the popularity and flexibility of Visual Studio Code by introducing support for their compilers such that a hybrid approach to editing and building with this tool can be combined with their specialized debug experiences.

Introducing MCUXpresso for Visual Studio Code

Recognizing the importance of Visual Studio Code to modern developers, NXP has now introduced MCUXpresso for VS Code, an extension that provides full support for our MCUXpresso software drivers and middleware, enabling developers to use the highly popular IDE for fast and responsive coding. In addition to more traditional MCUXpresso SDK flows, this new extension provides full support for developers working with the open-source Zephyr RTOS, providing a much-improved experience over existing solutions.

MCUXpresso for Visual Studio Code Block Diagram

MCUXpresso Hardware Abstraction Layer

To help engineers with code portability among different MCU platforms, NXP is introducing a new Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) to provide developers with a set of APIs that are identical among i.MX RT, LPC5500 and MCX MCUs. With the introduction of this new HAL, NXP MCU code can be fully portable across this broad portfolio of devices, opening up a huge range of choices power/performance points without the barrier of code porting.

While the introduction of a HAL in itself is not new, the fact that it is based on open-source API definitions already in use with other platforms illustrates NXP’s commitment to providing power of choice. With this approach, engineers not only have the freedom to move across different NXP devices, but can even transport their code to other silicon vendors. This flexibility provides the ultimate freedom for designers who can write MCU code that is no longer locked to a single hardware platform, bringing firmware design closer to a device-agnostic future.

NXP and Open-CMSIS-Packs

The use of middleware in MCU solutions is becoming increasingly important. Because of the growing complexity of MCU design and application requirements, engineers are turning to software libraries that can provide advanced features such as graphics processing, network stacks, USB device enumeration, audio capabilities, and even ML/AI. In these cases, trying to incorporate third-party middleware sourced from another company into a project can be extremely challenging as software from one provider may differ in format and style from another. Consequently, several manual steps may be necessary to restructure the external software into the required folders as well as integrating the compilation commands, and these problems may reoccur each time a new library is delivered by the supplier.

To help engineers incorporate middleware into their projects, all the IDEs in the MCUXpresso ecosystem now offer Open-CMSIS-Pack support. These complete software products are packaged using a specific standard and format so that IDEs can automatically identify the contents, add the needed files to a project, configure build tools, and provide access to APIs. As dependencies are incorporated into Open-CMSIS-Packs, engineers do not have to spend hours downloading separate files from different locations, nor do they need to check if the versions downloaded are compatible.

Why Power of Choice Is the Future of MCU Design

Just as the computer industry evolved toward unification and open standards, MCU ecosystems can benefit greatly by following suit, creating a new environment where firmware engineers can write code that will be hardware agnostic. This doesn’t mean that hardware will become less important; if anything, hardware will continue to play a critical role in product design. What will change is that those creating firmware will be able to do so without worrying about code portability, what device is executing their software and how that software interfaces with hardware.

The use of unification and industry standards in MCUs will also enable rapid increases in the adoption of open-source software. If MCU software becomes highly portable, it becomes much easier to share MCU code as it is able to target more platforms. This will help accelerate open-source projects as engineers across different silicon vendors can all jointly develop software solutions for mutual benefit while using their own native platforms.

Introducing open standards for HALs among MCUs will also help encourage new manufacturers to adopt these standards, as their devices will be compatible with most (if not all) existing software solutions. Therefore, new MCUs can be rapidly adopted, thereby increasing the speed at which engineers can use cutting-edge solutions without requiring major new investments in software resources.

This power of choice ultimately will ease fragmentation in the MCU industry, and isn’t that what today’s developers want?

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How Ethernet, PCIe and ASA Combine in Tomorrow’s Software-Defined Vehicles

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 21:10

David Schellenberger, Microchip Technologies

The autonomous vehicle is a complex system that requires large amounts of real-time data, cloud connectivity and fast, safe and secure decision making—it’s like a data center on wheels.

Hardware in Next-Generation Software-Defined Vehicles

As today’s cars adopt higher levels of automation (see Figure 1), they incorporate increasingly sophisticated combinations of electronic components: Central Processing Units (CPUs), Electronic Control Units (ECUs), Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), New Acoustic Dimensions (NADs), Systems-on-Chips (SoCs), sensors, accelerators and storage devices. The architecture and communication between the electronic components must be carefully designed to meet stringent safety, reliability, performance, cost and latency demands.

Figure 1 (Source: SAE International)

Within a vehicle, there are many ECUs that combine across separate zones based on a common functionality. These zonal ECUs communicate to high-performance compute platforms using Ethernet. Within the compute platform, there is a need for high-bandwidth processing to ensure that real-time decision making happens safely. Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) technology is being used by automotive designers in a manner very similar to how a data center is designed. Connecting sensors with high-speed serial outputs to processing units is best addressed with an open standard called Automotive SerDes Alliance (ASA).

Heterogenous Architecture for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

The figure below displays an architectural diagram showing how the three types of connectivity data flows work together in a high-performance compute platform.

Figure 2

At the top of the diagram, a video camera connects to multiple compute SoCs using the ASA Motion Link SerDes (purple) for the high-speed serial data, scaling from 2 to 16 Gbps. The width of the traffic data connections is an indication of its relative bandwidth. This ASA Motion Link standard may also be used to connect displays, separated from the Ethernet traffic. More compute SoCs can be added as higher levels of autonomy are sought and more sensors are added.

On the bottom of the diagram shown in blue are two Ethernet bridges going to the zonal ECUs within the vehicle; the symmetric point-to-point IP-based connectivity bandwidth can scale up to 10 Gbps. Each of these Ethernet bridges is carrying other sensor traffic, from various zones. Additional Ethernet to PCIe bridges may be added for new zones to support scaling for higher levels of autonomy.

Local storage is displayed as an orange box using NVMe technology. Multiple compute sources, such as SoCs and safety microcontrollers (MCUs), need to access this storage at high speeds, so the interconnect is handled through a PCIe switch (in dark blue). Using PCIe Gen4, the symmetric point-to-point connectivity can range from 16 to 64 Gbps (4 lanes) per port.

The safety MCU has low-bandwidth control signals shown by the yellow arrows inside the PCIe switch. For engineering debug purposes, there’s a green debug port shown on the left side connected to the PCIe switch.

The Advantages of Combining PCIe, Ethernet and ASA

Although the three communications technologies evolved at different times to support different needs, the heterogeneous architecture takes advantage of the strengths and tradeoffs of each of them—and PCIe pulls it all together.

The PCIe standard was created in 2003 by Intel, Dell, HP and IBM, targeting desktop and laptop devices to connect the graphics card to the CPU and main memory. It has evolved over the years to include up to 16 lanes of traffic and there are six-speed versions, so its use has now expanded into data centers and automotive systems. Packets are used in PCIe, along with error checks at multiple layers: transaction, data link and physical. The PCIe hardware guarantees error-free transactions, making for a reliable transport mechanism and well suited for mission-critical vehicle usage. Even the latency of PCIe is shorter than Ethernet, making it a great choice for inter-process communications used by ADAS.

We offer a family of PCIe switches that can be used in vehicle ADAS applications. The SwitchTec PFX Fanout PCIe Switch family is the world’s first automotive-qualified PCIe switch family and offers 28-, 36- and 52-lane versions with industry-leading features, flexibility and performance.

Ethernet was first developed in the 1970s and is an established standard used worldwide for all computer networking, so it’s a smart choice for automotive in-vehicle networking use, meeting cyber security and networking demands. The speeds of Ethernet are also much higher than previous standards like CAN, CAN FD, FlexRay and MOST technology. Multi-gig automotive Ethernet standards for 2.5 Gbps, 5 Gbps and 10 Gbps are defined by the IEEE® 802.3ch working group. With single, twisted-pair (UTP) cabling, Ethernet is both lightweight and low cost, ideal for automotive use. We offer a full line of Ethernet switches and PHYs for automotive use.

We’ve now reached an era of software-defined vehicles and it’s exciting to see all the new ADAS features being added from vendors across the globe in a competitive race to reach the goal of Level 5 autonomous driving. PCIe, Ethernet and ASA complement each other and this combination of networking standards is positioned to meet the needs of automotive designers now and in the future.

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ASIL C Safety Rated Field Current Sensor for Electric Vehicle Powertrain Systems – Allegro MicroSystems

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 21:04

Allegro MicroSystems, a global leader in power and sensing solutions for motion control and energy efficient systems, today announces the release of samples for the ACS37601, an ASIL C safety rated, high-precision, field current sensor with best-in-class accuracy for traction and auxiliary inverter systems as well as battery management systems (BMS) in electric vehicles (EVs).

Designers of inverter and battery management systems are challenged to achieve higher safety targets based on new Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) requirements.

To enable customers to meet these new safety requirements, while increasing system efficiency and extending battery life, Allegro has developed the ACS37601 programmable linear Hall-effect current sensor IC with overcurrent, overtemperature, and self-test capabilities. Designed to achieve high accuracy and resolution without compromising bandwidth, the ACS37601 is Allegro’s highest-accuracy field current sensor for applications requiring measurement capability greater than 200 Amperes.

“Allegro’s ACS37601 is enabling us to meet e-mobility functional safety and accuracy requirements in our BMS and EV traction inverter current sensor applications,” says Julio Urrea, vice president of business development at Littelfuse, a diversified industrial technology company empowering a sustainable, connected, and safer world in the electronics, transportation, and industrial markets.

To be used along with a C-core, the ACS37601 is the first ASIL C-rated field current sensor that achieves 0.8% sensitivity error and less than 5 mV offset error over the automotive temperature range, and—with 30% less noise than legacy devices—this IC is ideal for battery management applications. The high operating bandwidth from DC to 240 kHz and fast 2 μs response time enable new performance in DC battery charging and high-frequency automotive inverter applications. To support adoption of the most advanced microprocessors without requiring additional components, the ACS37601 works with 5 V or 3.3 V power supplies.

“Littelfuse has a history of excellence as an automotive supplier with a tremendous global footprint. We are excited to work with them to deliver industry-leading magnetic current sensor accuracy and safety to EV powertrain applications,” says Shaun Milano, business unit director for current sensors at Allegro.

To help designers deliver the most-advanced ASIL-compliant battery management and inverter systems, samples of the ACS37601 are currently offered in an extremely thin (1 mm-thick), 4-pin single in-line package (SIP), referred to as the KT package. The KT package is available in straight leads (suffix TN) as well as a lead-formed option (suffix TH), enabling surface-mount assembly and a high tolerance to mechanical vibrations. The package is lead (Pb) free, with 100% matte tin leadframe plating.

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Current and future trends in Conformal Coatings

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 21:00

Saskia Hogan, Global Product Manager Conformal Coatings, Electrolube

This article “Current and future trends in Conformal Coatings”, focusses on both the currently used coatings and the change in trend towards more environmentally conscious options.  The environmental element can be present in a host of different ways: for example, the use of less hazardous solvents; the reduction of solvents utilising alternative techniques or the use of conformal coatings with a higher content of bio-based materials.

2022 has marked the year of MacDermid Alpha’s Electrolube brand working with bio-based material. Electrolube is committed to the formulation of some coatings containing a higher degree of bio-organic content, addressing sustainability targets of some manufacturers and end-users. One of the commonly asked questions, is just how well can coatings containing bio-organic content perform? The answer may surprise you; during testing it has been observed that improvements in terms of performance and reliability are present.  Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment how this integrated solutions provider is paving the way for a more sustainable future. However, for now, let’s start at the beginning of our journey for an environmentally friendlier and more sustainable future.

Do you see the future of coatings as ‘greener’ or will there always be a demand for the more traditional solvent-based coatings?

Solvent-based conformal coatings are the most used conformal coatings in the electronics market, and they have their advantages. They are easy to use, cost effective and there is a wide selection available in the market. Whilst solvent-based conformal coatings will surely stay with us for quite some time, and are still incredibly popular, we also see a shift to a more careful attitude towards our resources and to more environmentally friendly and sustainable conformal coating products.

Specifically with younger generations on the electronics consumer side, but also in the workplace as product designers, electronic design engineers, chemical engineers, marketeers, just to name a few, we are finding more and more interest in sustainability and environmentally friendlier solutions, as well as the willingness to create products and solutions that really make a difference. This feeds through the supply chain and puts pressure onto different parts of the supply chain to provide more environmentally friendly solutions to support a greener approach and ultimately a greener future.

We also see an increased demand in protection materials for electronics that withstand harsher environments than ever before. The requirements are increasing rapidly and the pressure is on! If it then turns out, as we have seen from our research, that there are natural materials and materials from food waste, for instance, that can provide similar or better properties and protection, it seems only logical to dig into these renewables for coating product development. Nature is providing us with better solutions that are sustainable, as they are efficient … So, yes, I think there is a definite future for ‘greener’ conformal coatings.

There are other conformal coatings available in addition to solvent-based options, such as UV cure, 100% solids conformal coatings. How do they compare to solvent-based materials, and what are the differences between different UV cure coatings regarding the secondary cure mechanism?

For some manufacturers, solvent-based materials may represent a problem, and a way to circumvent this would be to utilise 100% solids, solvent, and VOC free materials. The traditional UV cure materials with secondary moisture cure, do however, come with its own challenges. When we look for example at the traditional UV cure conformal coatings, we find materials that have a UV primary cure and a secondary moisture cure. This means that wherever the correct UV light wavelength reaches the coating, it will cure the material within a matter of seconds. However, the problems lie within the shadow areas; in short, the areas that are not reached by the UV light. These specific areas will require a secondary cure. High components or under component parts will require the secondary cure to ensure an even protection level is achieved.

Many common UV cure coatings use atmospheric moisture for their secondary cure, which can release by-products that produce a strong odour. In applications, where the PCB is placed in an airtight enclosure, the available moisture can be limited, potentially resulting in an insufficient cure, and limited protection of the electronics.  Therefore, it is important to leave the coated PCB until the secondary cure has fully taken place. Depending on the UV coating, the secondary cure can take days, weeks, and, in some cases, even months.

A chemical cure, functioning as a secondary cure is fundamentally different to a moisture cure. The chemical cure happens with the conformal coating, not being a single component material but a material that is consisting of a part A and a part B that will be mixed and react with each other to cure. So, after the UV primary cure has taken place, the material will go into the secondary cure phase without the need of any environmental input.

The secondary cure will happen much quicker, depending on the coating, coating thickness and temperature (normally between 16 and 24 hours). The coated PCB can be handled and, in most cases, even assembled into an enclosure straight away. As there are no requirements for moisture, the enclosure can be sealed without concern relating to uncured material.

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The Vital Role of 1.6T Networking in Emerging Technology

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 20:55

Ben Miller, PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER, Keysight Technologies

Although warehouses filled with acres of buzzing server racks may not seem like the most likely places to find exciting new technology, data centers play a crucial role in the emerging technologies of tomorrow. Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), metaverse, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) are all high-demand applications which rely on data centers to provide powerful computing resources.

For the last three decades, modern society has increasingly depended on data center networks. Ethernet speeds have increased dramatically, transmitting high volumes of data that the modern world uses to communicate and make complex decisions. Despite many recent innovations in the high-speed networking space, data speeds need to keep up with the exponential demand. Further innovation in high-speed networking will enable 800 gigabits per second (800G) and 1.6 terabits per second (1.6T) speeds, opening the door to a more connected world.

CLOUD COMPUTING, EDGE COMPUTING, AND INTELLIGENCE FACTORIES

A significant trend in data in recent years has been offloading data processing to external servers. Hyperscale data centers have popped up globally to support cloud computing networks. Smaller data centers have now become more common for time-sensitive applications using localized edge computing . Data centers have evolved beyond the Internet, becoming “intelligence factories” that provide powerful computing resources for high-demand applications.

In an Internet application, individual computers (clients) connect to a modem or router, which sends data to a server elsewhere. Cloud and edge computing work similarly: users can log into a server that hosts more powerful programs than they can run on their own hardware. It is easy to see why so many emerging technologies could benefit from offloading processing to external servers.

Figure 1: Autonomous vehicles are a prime example of the benefits of offloading data to edge computing

Edge computing is interesting for its impact on autonomous vehicles (AVs). Safely operating an AV requires thousands of urgent decisions. Instead of hosting a supercomputer in the car to process the sensor data or sending it to a distant data center, AVs utilize smaller servers on the “edge,” closer to the client, dramatically reducing latency by processing locally. Data from other vehicles and road infrastructure are part of an ecosystem of clients which feed a central server (this technology is called “vehicle-to-everything” or V2X). The server can make the best decisions for all clients, resulting in intersections without stoplights or collisions.

Cloud computing applications are numerous and diverse, from controlling factory robots to maximize efficiency, hosting thousands of VR users in the metaverse, or hosting remote AI programs like ChatGPT and DALL-E. In most of these applications, transmitting and processing data instantly is key. Timing is essential, and latency requirements differentiate cloud and edge computing applications. Network lag in the metaverse could make users motion sick, but lag in a V2X ecosystem could cause a deadly collision.

Today’s 400G data centers can support streaming 4K video and large conference calls, but they are not yet fast enough for many emerging applications. As the sheer volume of data increases worldwide, 800G may not even be fast enough to process it. The networking industry is already looking toward 1.6T.

INSIDE THE DATA CENTER

To understand 1.6T research and development, one first needs to understand data centers. Data centers are organized around a core router, fed by a network of switches that provide connections between each row and rack of servers. Each server rack features a top-of-rack (TOR) switch that routes data and delegates processes to specific servers. Copper or fiber optic cables connect the backplane of each server with optical modules that perform the electro-optic conversion.

Figure 2: A typical data center structure featuring core, spine, and leaf switches connecting each server.

Physical layer transceivers follow Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) standards. These two groups define the interoperability of each interface, including the die-to-die connections, the chip-to-module and chip-to-chip interfaces, and the backplane cables. The most recent standards, as of this writing, are IEEE 802.3ck, which defines 100G, 200G and 400G networks using multiple 100 Gb/s lanes, and OIF CEI-112G, a collection of standards relating to the transmission of data at 112 Gb/s per lane.

Figure 3: Switch silicon, module, and backplane connections defined by OIF CEI and IEEE standards. Image courtesy Alphawave IP.

HISTORY OF DATA CENTER SPEEDS

In 1983, when the first IEEE 802.3 standard was released, Ethernet speeds were only 10 Mb/s. Over the last few decades, Ethernet speeds have grown dramatically through continuous innovation, reaching 400 Gb/s aggregated by four 56 GBaud (GBd) PAM4 lanes. The industry expects to double the speed twice over the next couple of years to keep up with bandwidth demand. How can developers double Ethernet speeds twice over the next few years? Is it physically possible to send that much data over a channel that quickly?

Figure 4: Ethernet speeds timeline, from the first 10 Mb/s IEEE 802.3 standard to the upcoming 800G/1.6T IEEE 802.3df standard.

Now you understand how important data centers are to emerging technologies and why the IEEE and OIF are continuously working on increasing networking speeds to meet demand. In Part Two: Challenges and Innovations for 1.6T Data Center Networks, I’ll discuss the research and development on 800G and 1.6T networks. We’ll look at options that the industry is considering to increase data network speeds and the technical tradeoffs of each. I will also share some insights on when we might see these ultra-fast hyperscale data centers become a reality.

To learn more, take the 1.6T Ethernet in the Data Center course on Keysight University to get exclusive insights from a variety of industry experts from across the networking ecosystem.

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The development of EV charging infrastructure and technology

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 18:46
EV Charging Infrastructure

Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, often referred to as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), is at the core of the EV ecosystem. Essentially, it describes infrastructure for charging EVs. Similar to mobile network infrastructure that supports a comprehensive communication system for mobile telecommunications, EVSE is a comprehensive power supply and control system that supports charging piles for EVs.

The simplest EV charging station is an electronic device, usually in the form of wall-mounted or piles, that draws from the power grid to safely charge vehicle batteries. Different types of chargers offer varying current and voltage levels to satisfy the specific battery requirements of various vehicles, ranging from 500 watts (W) to 500 kilowatts (kW).

Most vehicles are equipped with on-board charger systems that convert alternating current (AC) from the power grid to the direct current (DC) required to charge batteries. On-board charger systems allow vehicles to directly charge using standard household plugs (slow alternating current) or dedicated AC chargers (medium speed alternating current) in the home, at the workplace, or in public places. Chargers that bypass converters and provide DC charging to vehicle batteries, known as DC chargers or DC fast chargers, are capable of providing faster charging speeds.

Charging equipment often has some level of smart capabilities, enabling it to offer user verification, vehicle communications, data collection and monitoring, and payment. Various models may be capable of 2-way control under some circumstances, adjusting the power level entering the batteries via a control system based on price signals or other control factors. Other chargers are sometimes called “dumb” chargers that lack any control of communication functionality. They simply adjust electricity from power grids to the current and voltage required by the receiving batteries.

Hardware Infrastructure of EV Charging Systems

Standard charging systems include the following basic hardware components:

  • Power electronic components are at the core of charging stations. They provide power to the on-board battery chargers on EVs.
  • Charging controllers, the smart equipment in charging stations, manage basic charging functions such as activating or deactivating the charger, monitoring power use, and saving critical real-time data for incidents.
  • Network controllers offer broader network connectivity to charging stations. They allow charging stations to utilize telecommunications equipment and conduct network communications so that systems administrators can monitor, review and control the use of equipment. They can also manage user access to charging stations.
  • Cables and connectors known as charging guns are inserted into vehicles to establish a safe physical connection between chargers and vehicles. Charging guns or connectors generally comply with specific standard formats of car OEMs (such as CCS, CHAdeMO, SAE J1772, IEC 60309).

  • Data Management

EVs and EV chargers constantly generate important data related to battery charging status such as the charge rate of the battery, kilowatt-hour (kWh) used during charging, the power grid’s price signal, and requested response signals from management systems. Charging management software aims to manage and operate charging stations and their networks with efficiency and accuracy. Network software utilizes the 2-way data process between charging stations and their network control centers to effectively promote the rapid deployment and configuration of EV charging systems while explaining the remote configuration, management, and software updates performed by operators. Charging management software can set up and control drivers’ charging permissions, set prices, manage billing, and generate usage reports.

  • Maintenance and Service

Like any piece of equipment subjected to continuous public usage, EV chargers require a degree of service and maintenance. Public charger services are generally the responsibility of their owners or operators, not the power companies that supply their power. However, power companies that own public charging stations are of course responsible for the regular service and maintenance of their property.

Development of EV Charging Technology

Before EVs, the expression “range anxiety” was unheard of. Today, you hear it mentioned in almost every conversation about EVs and their charging systems. While some people still worry that EV batteries lack the power required to reach their destinations, recent technological advances have greatly relieved “range anxiety”. These advances are empowering EV batteries with the charging capacity to charge faster, for longer.

Let’s look at recent developments in EV charging technology.

  • Battery Storage

Household charging is relatively simple, since the costs incurred are simply added to homeowners’ energy bills and paid as usual. However, charging costs can be challenging for many employees who need to charge their vehicles at work, and for companies that rely on a large number of vehicles. The good news is, battery storage technology offers a solution that charges and stores energy during off-peak hours. During these periods of lower demand, tiered pricing is at a lower level. During peak periods of energy use, such as during work hours, the energy subsequently stored in batteries during off-peak hours effectively relieves the pressure on the power grid and on the user’s pocket, when load and prices are at their highest. Hence electricity costs are significantly reduced.

  • Wireless Charging

It sounds almost too good to be true – the ability to charge vehicles wirelessly, similar to the way in which we can charge smartphones. Technological advances offer all kinds of possibilities. Massive objects like cars require a huge amount of charging power, which is obviously very different from directly placing a smartphone on a wireless charger. Among the many challenges are space and cost issues. For starters, wireless EV charging requires:

  • An additional charger integrated into the vehicle, which increases vehicle cost
  • Wireless chargers integrated into public places, which is extremely costly
  • A shorter distance between chargers and vehicles for increased efficiency

Many vehicle and EVSE manufacturers such as Genesis/WiTricity, DKE, Project STILLE (Germany), and CATARC (China) are all pushing the limits of wireless EV charging technology.

  • Megawatt Charging System (MCS)

Another advance in EV charging technology is high-performance charging that allows massive EVs such as heavy trucks and public transport vehicles to operate over longer distances. This is known as high-power megawatt charging. Like wireless RV charging, there are many barriers to overcome before widespread adoption will be possible. High-power megawatt charging systems (MCSs) require:

  • High-capacity EV batteries and thicker cables to increase charging power
  • Elevated safety standards due to higher charging loads
  • Further increases in speed and efficiency (truly fast charging should complete 1MW of power within 15 to 20 minutes)
  • Fast charging stations capable of simultaneously charging multiple vehicles

Megawatt charging technology is currently being applied to light electric aircraft, ferries, and some other ships. With the adoption of megawatt charging technology, battery storage will become critical for handling peak electricity demand in power grids.

  • Mobile EV Charging

Mobile EV charging systems include portable chargers, charging cars or trailers, and temporary chargers. The advantage of mobile charging systems is that they eliminate the need for permanent charging infrastructure, and provide the flexibility of moving charging devices to wherever they are needed. This charging technology and solution is highly effective in specific scenarios such as charging EVs in car dealerships, or providing mobile charging via rescue vehicles for EVs that have run out of power on the road.

  • Automatic EV Charging

While automatic and wireless charging are interchangeable to a certain extent, they differ in that wireless charging usually requires driver intervention, such as parking on a charging plate. Automatic charging, as its name implies, happens automatically without any driver input.

Imagine installing charging plates under road asphalt so that electric buses can charge on the move, or installing autonomous charging plates under the asphalt of parking lots or home garages. Automatic charging is especially important for self-driving cars, to allow them to be charged in diverse situations without human driver intervention. While it will still be several years before self-driving cars can operate on public roads, they are already in use in the loading zones of some container ports. Self-driving EV charging technology is being developed to keep pace with the growing demand.

Conclusion

Given the current focus on carbon emissions, carbon neutrality, and the electrification of roads, the development of EV charging infrastructure will undoubtedly accelerate. It is quite possible that automatic and wireless charging equipment will become relatively commonplace in the near future – allowing us to break free from our reliance on fossil fuels and embrace bluer skies, a cleaner environment, and better lives.

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Seven strategies for designing wearable devices on an ultra-low power budget

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 18:32

By Philip Ling, Avnet. 

The design requirements for wearable devices are unique amongst embedded systems. Design engineers don’t have the freedom to trade size against weight, or performance for power. When it comes to wearables, smaller isn’t just better, it is essential.

As semiconductor processes evolve, they deliver smaller integrated devices with lower power dissipation. These are important contributors to expanding the potential applications for wearable technology. Engineers have greater design freedom with access to more capable integrated devices.

Today, most wearable products are worn on the wrist. Smart watches are multifunctional but fitness bands that track activity are rising in popularity. Fitness and wellbeing are closely related to medical and healthcare and in this context the wrist is merely convenient. It provides a good place to monitor movement as well as pulse rate. Heart health can also be measured using electrocardiogram methodology, with the wrist providing one point of contact.

Transducers provide the interface between the physical and digital domains. Electronic (MEMS-based inertial measurement) and mechanical (Piezo) sensors are perhaps the best known. Other types of sensors exist and are being developed, particularly for wearable medical devices. Optical sensors use different wavelengths to penetrate the skin by a defined depth and analyze the reflections to gain insights into the health of the wearer. Similarly, near-field radio frequency sensors can detect breathing patterns and lung capacity. Microfluidic biosensors are used in wearable medical devices to detect markers in sweat.

Future wearable technology will be more aligned with our own senses. Smart earwear and eyewear leverages augmented and virtual reality and can be used in all types of vertical markets. Bodywear, including foot and hand, provide a more personalized experience by tracking the wearer’s movements with greater accuracy.

The incredible rise of the wearable

Wearable devices vary in their application, but as a market sector they share common features. They need to be as unobtrusive as possible, which means size and weight will drive design. The availability of physically small integrated devices is part of the solution but powering the device will be fundamental. While research is ongoing around self-powered wearable sensors, the majority will still need a battery.

New battery technologies for wearables

Battery capacity is also limited by size. The popular CR2032 coin cell battery measures 20 mm in diameter and 3.2 mm thick. It provides 220 mAh of power at 3 V. To get a week of use time out of a wearable using a battery with a capacity of 220 mAh, the device will need to consume, on average, around 130 uA.

Using electric vehicles as a comparison, an electric car will return approximately 5 miles of range per kWh of power. EV batteries are reported to have an energy density of around 250 Wh/kg. A battery that can provide a range of 500 miles will weigh around 400 kg, while a 200-mile range battery would be around 160 kg. The same applies to anything battery-powered, including wearables. The larger the battery the longer the usable lifetime between battery charges or recharges, but the device will be larger, heavier, and possibly more expensive.

Solid-state lithium battery technology is being adopted by the EV market. It is reportedly safer than lithium-ion technology due to the solid electrolyte. This inherent safety means the battery casing can be thinner, reducing the overall weight and increasing the energy density. The same is true for wearables, in the form of solid-state micro batteries. Leaders in this field are reporting solid-state micro batteries with twice the energy density of conventional lithium-ion coin cell batteries.

As the industry moves toward body wearables, the shape of batteries becomes more flexible. This is the case for soft lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that can be manufactured in pliable pouches. The format supports larger batteries with a relatively lower weight for the power density. These could be used in smart clothing, as an example, by incorporating them into the fabric.

Ultra-low-power process technologies

The semiconductor industry is acutely aware of power. This doesn’t just relate to how much active power a device uses; it also impacts the amount of heat a device can dissipate as transistor density increases. There is a link between transistor scaling and energy density, so developing low power processes is important to the future of semiconductor integration.

Several process technologies have emerged over time. These include fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI), which adds an insulating layer to the bulk substrate to reduce body capacitance. This improves speed and lowers noise, which can be exploited to reduce the operating voltage and, by extension, power consumption. Its lower noise has also prompted some manufacturers to use it for analog ICs.

Another innovative technology involves operating the transistors at a voltage lower than the conventional threshold used. This so-called subthreshold approach for digital ICs delivers power savings due to the same principal; lower operating voltage equals lower power.

High performance and low power don’t really go together. For performance, the semiconductor industry moved to FinFET transistors some time ago, but the technology has only recently been pitched at ultra-low power applications. The majority of low power technologies still rely on a planar transistor process, but FinFETs could be the next small thing in wearable technology.

Process technologies continue to evolve, with ultra-low power becoming one design objective

Three semiconductor process technologies currently in production, including planar for bulk CMOS silicon, fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) for low noise and fast operation, and finFET for high performance

Power saving circuit features

Saving power extends beyond the process technology. Techniques continue to emerge, specifically intended to lower active power. Domino logic is not a new technology, but researchers continue to explore its low power potential, particularly when used in a subthreshold process. Domino logic is related to dynamic logic, which uses a clock for combinatorial logic. This contrasts to static logic, which doesn’t use a clock.

Asynchronous logic extends the concept of clockless circuits. This approach uses a protocol between functional blocks to indicate when the result from one block is valid for the next, rather than synchronizing everything to a clock edge. The benefits of asynchronous logic were exploited when power density was becoming an issue. Removing the clock avoided the instantaneous surges in supply current that could occur when all functional blocks switched in time to a common clock. Research into how asynchronous logic could support lower supply rail voltages is ongoing.

Other techniques developed by processor manufacturers include voltage and clock scaling, which reduces both during times of low processor demand. This is still predominantly intended to address active power consumption, while standby, sleep and deep sleep modes are focused on static power. Techniques to reduce static power include clock and voltage gating, which removes the clock and/or supply rail from blocks of circuitry when they are not in use. With no power or signal to trigger switching, no power is consumed by the CMOS transistors in those areas.

ULP power management

Power management ICs, or PMICS, provide voltage regulation, conversion and supply protection in a single device. These features are important for most products, but they can be even more critical in battery-powered devices that strive for ultra-low power operation.

The features available from highly integrated PMICs include the standard protection that power management devices offer, such as over/under voltage/current protection, and short-circuit protection. PMICs aimed at rechargeable devices also include battery charging management, battery protection (thermal, deep discharge), and battery voltage monitoring during operation.

Additional features designed specifically for ultra-low power devices, such as wearables, include standby mode. This puts the PMIC itself into an ultra-low power mode, reducing the quiescent current when the wearable device isn’t being used.

Low power display technologies

Light emitting diode technologies continue to develop, offering higher pixel density and lower power. Active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) technology has become popular with smart phone manufacturers and is expected to dominate foldable screens. Its use in wearables has also increased, with many smartwatches using AMOLED displays.

One of the most promising developments in recent years is the microLED array. The light output of a microLED, measured in Nits (candelas per m2) can be orders of magnitude higher than OLED technology. This means they need less power to provide the same Nits as other displays.

Just as with other displays, microLEDs are arrays of pixels based on three (red, green, blue) very small LEDs. Displays are manufactured using either a pick-and-place approach to position the microLEDs on a substrate, or a monolithic process that doesn’t require the additional pick-and-place process. The monolithic microLED technology can support a smaller pixel pitch than pick-and-place technology. This makes it attractive for small wearable displays, in particular eyewear.

Ultra-low-power wireless communications

Wireless connectivity is not a prerequisite for wearable technology, as many applications could synchronize over a wired connection such as a docking station that also provides power to recharge batteries. However, consumer expectation has been set by early and current examples of wearables that offer an always-on, always-connected experience. It seems inevitable that wireless communication is now essential for future wearable technology.

Bluetooth remains the wireless technology of choice in peer-to-peer applications. While wearables may adopt a mesh networking model, the personal nature of wearable technology suggests that peer-to-peer will probably be favored.

Recent revisions to the Bluetooth specification, from 5.0 onwards, have mostly focused on extending the applicability of Bluetooth to smart applications. These haven’t addressed power directly, but Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE, (introduced with version 4.0) still manages to deliver excellent performance in ultra-low power applications.

If position tracking is an important feature of the wearable device, then Bluetooth version 5.1 onwards will be an attractive option. It includes location and tracking support by providing angle of arrival and angle of departure for the RF signal. This can be used to determine position when used with a beacon in a known location.

Some wearable devices may need to be directly addressable over the internet. Here, an IP-based mesh network protocol may be better. The options include 6LowPAN and Thread, as well as Wi-Fi. There are now several examples of system-on-chips that offer multi-protocol radios integrated alongside microcontroller cores to address this part of the wearables market.

Near-field communications (NFC) is another wireless technology making its way into the wearables sector. NFC can provide both power and data to a wearable sensor, to charge a small battery and exchange data. This would be a viable option for wearable devices that do not need to be always-connected, but potentially always-on.

The lab-on-a-chip for wearables

The idea of integrating digital processing alongside analog frontends for biomedical sensing has been around for some time. Developments continue in this area, with more focus on making the medical device wearable.

These highly integrated devices combine ultra-low power processing with dedicated sensor interfaces. This makes them less generic than most ICs, which is itself an indication that the market is maturing.

Optical sensors work well in this context, as they provide a non-invasive way of monitoring vital statistics and can be placed in various places around the body. Manufacturers are now integrating the photonic element alongside the logic to create a lab-on-a-chip solution. Again, the wrist is showing up as a favorite location for the wearable devices these ICs enable.

The future of wearable electronics

Forecasts for wearable technology have always been optimistic. The biggest potential has been and remains pinned to wearable technology for home health and medical applications. Integrated devices hold the key to enabling growth in the market and, as is normally the case, the IC manufacturers want to see real potential before they invest too much time, money and effort into developing the solutions needed.

Once the decision has been made, it still takes time before those solutions appear. The dynamics of the semiconductor market can be frustrating for innovators and start-ups looking to launch a new application that will capture the minds of the end consumer. There are many such applications in the wearable space.

But there is proof positive that those solutions are now available. Smartwatches and fitness trackers are currently the primary example of wearable technology, at least in the consumer sector, with sales continuing to expand. Medical devices are hugely interesting for manufacturers, but the market dynamics are clearly different. Augmented reality is primed to revolutionize the industrial vertical.

And this is perhaps the biggest challenge that wearable technology now faces. In terms of the end applications, it is hugely fragmented. Few other sectors face such a level of fragmentation. Fundamentally, however, the enabling technologies are largely the same. It falls to the OEM to leverage those technologies to create new products that really solve a problem or improve a situation in a specific application area.

The post Seven strategies for designing wearable devices on an ultra-low power budget appeared first on ELE Times.

Low Power Design

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 17:54
Processors, Power Conversion, Peripherals

Users keep expecting more from their battery-operated and portable devices, and design engineers keep giving them more. And if engineers can make an instrument or consumer device portable, they are pushed to do so. Improved Li-ion batteries have made many portable devices practical. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies are replacing wires in industrial automation systems, and wireless communication is much more prevalent now in consumer and medical devices. Industrial control systems and Internet of Things (IoT) devices need to be smaller, lighter, and sometimes portable. Even if not portable, they really need to be low power. This article looks at how engineers can examine their overall designs—including components such as microcontrollers, sensors, and actuators—to minimize power consumption.

Microcontrollers

While programming an 8-bit microcontroller (MCU) is often easier than programming a 32-bit MCU, clever hardware and accompanying software can make the 32-bit design just as low power but with the capabilities necessary in many current applications and emerging applications. The wider bus tends to use more energy, but it performs more work per cycle and can often be powered down when not in use. An 8-bit architecture, though popular, typically hits its limits when dealing with any networking or communications.

The power draw of MCUs is not always easy to determine, as it depends on many variables, including clock speed, peripheral usage, supply voltage, and memory activity. Additionally, temperature can affect power performance, increasing supply current for an ultra-low-power (ULP) MCU by a factor of ten at 80°C compared to that at room temperature. Software can make a big difference in energy consumption, so engineers should look to manufacturers who can advise in this area.

There are, perhaps, three mainstay processors at the heart of very-low-power 32-bit MCUs: Arm Cortex-M0, Arm Cortex-M4, and RISC-V. The following examples incorporate these popular processors.

Microcontroller Examples

The low-cost STM32C011 MCU from STMicroelectronics uses the 32-bit Arm Cortex -M0+ core and features direct memory access (DMA), four 16-bit timers with motor control, two USARTs, a real time clock (RTC), a fast 12-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC), and cyclic redundancy check (CRC). Using 3.0V, the STM32C011 consumes 3800µA in run mode at 48MHz, 80µA in stop mode, 8.0µA in standby, and only 0.02µA in shutdown. The IC has up to 32kB of flash memory and 6kB or 12kB of SRAM, with nested vector interrupt control.

Texas Instruments offers an entire family of low-power SimpleLink wireless MCUs. The 2.4GHz CC2651R3 device has a 48MHz Arm Cortex-M4 processor with support for Bluetooth Low Energy, Zigbee, and the 802.15.4 low-data-rate WPAN. It includes 352kB of flash, 32kB of ultra-low-leakage SRAM, and 8kB of cache SRAM. The MCU needs 2.9mA in active mode (running CoreMark®), 61μA/MHz running CoreMark, 0.8μA in standby mode with RTC and 32kB of RAM, and 0.1μA in shutdown mode. The chip’s radio consumes 6.4mA in Rx, -7.1mA Tx at 0dBm, and 9.5mA Tx at +5 dBm. The IC has an AES 128-bit cryptographic accelerator, a true random number generator, an eight-channel 12-bit ADC, and a temperature and battery monitor.

The Analog Devices MAX32670 ultra-low-power microcontroller uses an Arm Cortex-M4 CPU with a floating-point unit (FPU). It targets industrial and IoT applications with complex sensor processing capabilities, plus AES and CRC hardware acceleration engines. The chip has a low-dropout (LDO) regulator for the 1.5V core and runs from a single 1.7V to 3.6V supply. It requires 5.0mA when active at 100MHz and only 2.6μA for full memory retention power in backup mode at 1.8 VDD. The chip has up to 384kB of flash and 160kB of SRAM and features error correction coding (ECC) over its entire RAM space. It provides two low-power timers to enable pulse counting and PWM generation even in the lowest-power sleep modes, plus I2C, 50MHz SPIs, and UARTs.

The Infineon Technologies CY8C4247LQQ-BL483 32-bit PSoC 4 MCU has a 24MHz Arm Cortex-M0 core with 2.4GHz Bluetooth Low Energy; a 12-bit, 1MS/s SAR ADC; CAPSENSE touch button interface; and up to 256kB of flash and 32kB of SRAM. The device can be powered from batteries with a voltage range of 1.9V to 5.5V. The supply current in active mode is 1.7mA at 3MHz flash program execution, while only 1.5μA in deep sleep mode using a watch crystal oscillator (WCO). Hibernate mode needs just 150nA with RAM retention. The chip has four programmable logic blocks, each with eight macrocells.

The Microchip Technology ATSAML21E MCU incorporates an Arm Cortex M0+ core with 48MHz clock in a TQFP-32 package. The chip features sophisticated power management technologies, like power domain gating, sleepwalking, and ultra-low power peripherals. It consumes as little as 35μA/MHz in active mode and 200nA in sleep mode. The ATSAML21E works from an operating voltage between 1.62V and 3.63V and offers five independent power domains. The IC has a single-cycle hardware multiplier, a micro-trace buffer, 16 external interrupts, one non-maskable interrupt, and a 16-channel DMAC. It also features a 12-channel event system and up to five 16-bit timer/counters. Active current with all functions in operation at 3.3V is approximately 85µa/MHz, while idle current is ~200µA at 12MHz. Standby current is as low as 1.5µA (or 50µA at 105°C). The MCU also features a backup state, powered by VBATT input, that requires only ~0.2µA.

The NXP Semiconductors LPC55S66 MCU features a 150Mhz Arm Cortex-M33 core and a second M33 co-processor (Figure 1), but it still manages to consume very little power. The M33 core is crafted in Armv8-M architecture and has advanced security features, including TrustZone, FPU, on-the-fly flash encryption/decryption, and a memory protection unit (MPU). It has 256MB of flash and 144kB of SRAM (640/320 optional), and nine flexible serial communication peripherals (USART, SPI, high-speed SPI, I2C, or I2S interface). The IC also offers integrated DSP instructions, support for secure boot, HASH, AES, RSA, UUID, DICE, dynamic encrypt and decrypt, debug authentication, and serial wire debug. Supply current with CoreMark code executed from SRAM in CPU0, CPU1 in Off mode, and flash powered down, with a 12MHz clock is 0.9mA. At 150MHz, the current is 6.2mA. With CPU0 in SLEEP mode and CPU1 in OFF mode with a 12MHz clock, VCC current is 0.7mA, and deep sleep can go as low as 0.11mA.

Figure 1: NXP LPC55S66 microcontroller block diagram, showing dual cores and all peripherals. (Source: NXP Semiconductors)

Silicon Labs EFR32BG22 Wireless Gecko Bluetooth 5.2 system-on-chip (SoC) combines ultra-low transmit and receive power (3.6mA Tx at 0dBm, 2.6mA Rx) and a security-enhanced, single-core Arm Cortex-M33 CPU that draws 27µA/MHz while active and 1.2µA in sleep mode. The device enables coin cell battery life of up to ten years and offers up to 512kB of flash and 32kB of RAM. Features include Secure Boot with Root of Trust and Secure Loader, a 12- or 16-bit ADC, DMA, dual I2C ports, and 26 general-purpose I/O pins. The operating range is 1.71V to 3.8V on a single supply.

Espressif Systems makes RF SoCs and modules with either Xtensa or RISC-V CPUs. All devices support 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 Low Energy. The ESP32-C3FH4 is a low-power SoC using a 160MHz RISC-V core with 400kB of SRAM (16kB for cache) and 384kB of ROM. Also on the chip are 14 programmable GPIOs, a DMA controller, an SAR ADC, and a temperature sensor. If the modem is idle and the CPU runs, the supply current is 23mA. In light-sleep mode—with VDD of 3.3V, SPI and Wi-Fi powered down, and all GPIOs in high impedance—the supply current is just 130µA.

Sensors

Almost every type of sensor has seen a significant reduction in required power in recent years. This trend toward lower power consumption plus decreasing costs have enabled designs that monitor almost anything, from machinery and health to communications systems, pets, and environment.

Sensor Examples

STMicroelectronics offers a variety of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors that enable a performance jump and new features for consumer mobile, healthcare, and retail applications. The devices bring adaptive, machine-learning capabilities to edge applications that operate at extremely low power. The charge-variation (QVAR) sensing channel monitors changes in electrostatic charge to provide contact sensing. Applications include moisture and condensation sensing, human-presence detection, activity monitoring, and people counting.

ST’s MEMS portfolio includes the LPS22DF barometric pressure sensor and waterproof LPS28DFW barometric pressure sensor, which feature active supply current as low as 1.7µA and absolute pressure accuracy of 0.5hPa. The LIS2DU12 3-axis accelerometer offers a great ultra-low-power architecture with active antialiasing and consumes only 3.5µA at 100Hz.

Power Conversion

Most modern rechargeable battery-operated designs use a single lithium-ion (Li-ion) cell, while primary (non-rechargeable) designs will use a coin cell made of manganese dioxide lithium. Generally, Li-ion rechargeable batteries have a final charge voltage of 4.2V and an end of discharge of 3.0V. The 3V CR2032 coin battery has a 2.0V discharge cut-off and a 3.2V maximum charge point. Many MCUs have an internal regulator and can handle these voltages directly.

While high-efficiency power conversion is taken for granted these days, it can be challenging to achieve efficiency when the design’s current is very low. For battery-operated designs, the system must also perform at low and high battery voltages. An LDO linear regulator may be appropriate in such cases, but a regulated charge pump can be very efficient at low currents.

Example Power Converters

The Texas Instruments TPS62743 is an ultra-low-power DC-DC step-down converter with a quiescent current of only 360nA. The device uses DCS-Control™ topology and operates with a typical switching frequency of 1.2MHz, using a 2.2µH inductor and 10µF output capacitor. In power save mode, the device extends the light load efficiency to a current load range of 10µA. The input voltage range is 2.15V to 5.5V, providing a maximum current of 300mA. Once started, the device operates down to 2.0V input, allowing operation directly from a single Li-MnO2 coin cell.

The Torex Semiconductor XC9265 series step-down DC/DC converters have built-in 0.4Ω N- and P-channel switching transistors as well as short circuit protection and an under-voltage lockout. Using pulse frequency modulation (PFM), the chips have a fixed output voltage from 1.0V to 4.0V (±2.0%) in increments of 0.05V and regulate down to very low-current loads. Input voltage is from 2.0V to 6.0V, with a maximum output current of 200mA (XC9265A/C) or 50mA (XC9265B/D). The supply current is just 0.5µA.

Solid State Relays

Solid-state relays have improved to the point of being useful in ultra-low-power designs. Being able to drive an external device, such as an alarm or control valve from a small battery-operated unit, can be a big bonus.

Example Relays

The Omron G3VM201D MOSFET relay (Figure 2) requires a trigger forward input current of just 0.5mA typical (2mA maximum) at about 1.6V. The normally open, opto-isolated, SPST switch output handles up to 200mA at 200V AC/DC loads in a four-pin, surface-mount package. Dielectric strength is 5000VAC for 1s, and some models are available with current-limiting functions.

Figure 2: The Omron G3VM201D low-drive-current isolated solid state relay requires a trigger forward input current of just 0.5mA. (Source: Omron)

The Panasonic AQY4C is an AC/DC, dual-use, PhotoMOS, normally closed relay with an I/O isolation voltage of 200VRMS. The chips output is rated for 60V and 0.15A. The required input current is just 0.2mA, and the input voltage is 3V to 5V. Output on resistance is 4Ω typical. It comes in a small four-pin 3.5mm TSON package.

Conclusion

The combination of ultra-low power and wireless technology is one of the top trends of the 21st century thus far. This is true for a wealth of new battery-operated consumer and medical devices, but it is also true for other designs. For example, prioritizing low power draw in a vehicle’s instrument panel requires smaller and lighter wiring and offers energy savings. As this is true for almost any industrial control or IoT device, design engineers have an opportunity to improve many systems and products through informed component selection.

Jim Harrison, Consultant, Lincoln Technology Communications

The post Low Power Design appeared first on ELE Times.

One-stop integration of electronics R&D, manufacturing, and packaging technology trends

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 17:30

Automotive World 2023, Tokyo, Japan

37th NEPCON JAPAN, January 2023 edition, Asia’s leading exhibition for electronics R&D, manufacturing, and packaging technology, concluded with great success. 1,420 exhibitors and 74,357 visitors gathered during three days show, from 25 – 27 Jan, 2023 at Tokyo Big Sight, Japan an International Exhibition Center.

NEPCON JAPAN, launched more than 30 years ago, has grown together with the Japanese and Asian electronics industry. Consisting of 6 shows specialised in essential areas for electronics manufacturing and R&D, the show has increased its value as an exhibition representing Asia’s leading one-stop venue for all those involved in electronics industry.

‘Automotive World 2023’, the world’s leading exhibition for advanced automotive technologies, is a combination of exhibitions and conferences covering important topics in the automotive industry such as automotive electronics, connected car, autonomous driving, EV/HV/FCV, lightweight, processing technology and MaaS. The exhibition was a grand success as local and foreign visitors visited the exhibition with great fanfare.

At the technology conference, OEMs such as Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Denso and Bosch shared the latest technology information relating to decarbonization and autonomous driving.

RoboDex and Smart Factory Expo attracted the curious crowd as both the fairs showcased the latest solutions from robotics and factory automation. latest automation technologies for realizing eco-friendly energy infrastructure, robot arms, coffee-manufacturing robots, wearable suits were the point of attraction at the show.

Japan, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, Israel, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Armenia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Turkey, Vietnam and Mexico showcased their latest solutions at the exhibition.

I must congratulate the organisers and team for the strict safety measures taken amidst the looming danger of Covid 19, as China and Japan were under heavy threat of the pandemic cases reported every day. Despite the odds, it was the exceptional display of organitional capabilities of RX Japan while organising the show. I also congratulate the people of Japan for their disciplined behaviour and cooperation with the organising authorities. The business was as usual – good to see all. Live long Japan. Such attitude will have a positive impact on the future exhibitions.

Nepcon Japan showcased the latest in technologies from all around the world. Some of the noteworthy technologies are listed as below:

STMicroelectronics:

Automotive-grade, 5.1 Mpixel image sensor with global shutter and rolling modes for full image resolution and performance, in NIR and RGB

The VB1940, VD1940 is a 5.1 MP image sensor with both rolling and global shutter modes. In rolling shutter mode, the VB1940, VD1940 produces a single HDR color frame output through the MIPI CSI 2 interface. This is achieved by combining a short and long exposure. In addition, the user can activate a function that converts the RGB NIR pattern to an RGGB format. Such format is compatible with any standard automotive ECU (electronic control unit).

In global shutter mode, the RGB pixels upscale the NIR image to full resolution. This innovative use of the NIR information is achieved thanks to the independent exposition of the NIR and RGB pixels.

The sensor captures up to 60 frames per second in a 2560 x 1984 resolution format. The device is fully configurable through the I²C serial interface. It also provides flexible frame-to-frame configuration changes via the use of programmable contexts. Up to four contexts can be sequenced in a versatile loop of up to 32 elements.

The sensor is designed as a SEOOC (safety element out of context). It is compliant with ISO26262 standards and ASIL-B safety levels. The VB1940, VD1940 is designed with a full set of cyber security features.

For more information visit:www.st.com/

ASMPT Limited:

Advanced packaging – enabled by Open Automation

ASMPT, a leading maker of hardware and software for semiconductor and electronics production, further expanded its customer and business contacts at Asia’s leading exhibition for research and development, electronics and manufacturing as well as packaging technologies. The main focus at the ASMPT booth was on advanced packaging under the banner of the company’s Open Automation concept for the automotive sector.

In the open-plan exhibition area, industry visitors could examine the automatic XFINITE epoxy die bonder for 12-inch wafers along with 0201m demo boards on the subject of high-density placement. A tabletop display provided information about WLFO. Other highlights included the SIPLACE TX micron and SIPLACE CA placement systems as well as sintering systems, clip bond, and other power packages. Many visitors took advantage of the opportunity to engage in personal technical discussions with ASMPT’s experts. Many decision makers showed deep interest in ASMPT’s way of combining the two worlds of semiconductor and SMT production in one innovative and powerful machine. The new SIPLACE CA processes SMT components and dies directly from the diced wafer with die-attach and flip-chip processes in the same work step – with tremendous speed and accuracy.

Restructuring as a growth driver

“The entire automotive sector is currently undergoing a profound restructuring, not only in powertrain technology,” explained Yuzo Ishizaki, General Manager at ASMPT SMT Japan. “Our customers in this industry in particular are showing great interest in innovative advanced packaging solutions for things like SiP and power modules. True to our Open Automation concept, ASMPT offers this technology very fast, highly precise, process-stable and integration-capable production machines that give manufacturers the freedom to choose the extent to which they want to automate their operations at any time.”

To learn more about ASMPT, please visit us at asmpt.com.

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Analog Devices:

Automotive Ethernet Connectivity with 10BASE-T1S E2B

Automotive Ethernet connectivity is a key enabler of new, zonal architectures in automotive design and supports automotive megatrends like personalization, autonomy, and electrification. Ethernet has become the ubiquitous technology for backbone network connectivity across many industries, and it’s proving to be a critical technology in the automotive world as well.

In existing automotive architectures, edge node connectivity is provided by non-Ethernet legacy networks. As systems transition to zonal architectures based on Ethernet connectivity and centralized processing, maintaining legacy network edge connectivity dictates the need for gateways to bridge from Ethernet to these legacy networks. However, bridging adds complexity, latency, and inflexibility, making systems difficult to scale and reuse.

Maintaining Ethernet all the way to the edge nodes removes this bridging function, providing a fully optimized Ethernet architecture utilizing time sensitive networking (TSN) to deliver quality of service and flexible address-based routing for dynamic network creation. The broad physical layer portfolio enables the optimal solution for all situations.

10BASE-T1S E²B (Ethernet to the Edge Bus)

Selecting a 10BASE-T1S multidrop link delivers the benefits described above while optimizing the cable harness design. ADI’s E2B (Ethernet to the Edge Bus) low complexity Ethernet implementation for 10BASE-T1S simplifies the design process by removing the need for an MCU in the edge nodes.

E2B nodes are highly optimized yet flexible hardware-based 10BASE-T1S Ethernet edge nodes, perfect for Ethernet connection to edge sensors and actuators. E2B fits seamlessly into the overall larger Ethernet architecture and can be used on the same bus as other 10BASE-T1S compliant products.

For more information visit: https://www.analog.com/e2b

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Shimadzu:

Measuring Systems for Automotive Industry

Measuring Technology and Film Deposition Technology Offered by Shimadzu Industrial Systems for Achieving Progress and High Quality for the Automotive Industry

In recent years, the automotive industry has been expanding from conventional gasoline and diesel powered vehicles to environmentally-friendly electric and fuel cell powered vehicles. Additionally, there has been significant progress in the development of fully self-driving vehicles and technologies for reducing weight. Shimadzu Industrial Systems offers solutions based on broad experience and an extensive track record related to technological innovation for solving challenges faced by customers.

X-Ray Inspection Technology

Shimadzu started manufacturing industrial X-ray systems in 1965. Offering among the sharpest images and most user-friendly operability in the world, Shimadzu now supplies X-ray systems to the automotive industry and a wide range of other fields as well.

Leak Inspection Technology

Shimadzu started manufacturing helium leak detectors in 1954. Due to a unique analyzer tube deflection angle and outstanding sensitivity, Shimadzu has established a leading position in Japan. Systems are also available for oil-free mass production lines. 

Quantifying and Improving the Accuracy of Automotive Part Airtightness Inspections:

  • Achieves accurate and highly precise leak inspections, regardless of the operator’s technical skill or expertise level (10-13 Pa·m3/s max. standalone detection sensitivity).
  • Shimadzu can offer a wide range of solutions depending on the customer’s application, from manual systems to automatic helium leak testing systems for production lines or even helium recovery systems.
  • Shimadzu’s proprietary analyzer tube configuration with a 270-degree deflection angle and a 3 L/s helium pumping rate help minimize downtime even if a large leak occurs.

Dynamic Balance Testing Technology

Shimadzu started manufacturing balancing machines in 1968. Due to needs-based technology development and outstanding software, Shimadzu now offers among the world’s highest measurement accuracy and most user-friendly operability.

Achieving Higher Efficiency and Longer Life for Automotive Parts

  • By making various rotating parts rotate more smoothly, these systems help save energy, reduce noise, and extend service life.
  • Helps improve the efficiency of motive power sources and saves energy by reducing the vibration of rotating parts.
  • Lengthens the service life of bearings, for example, and satisfies high precision requirements for cutting tools.

Film Deposition Technology

Increasing Added Value and Productivity for the Transition of Automotive Parts to Plastic: These systems ensure high-quality film properties and offer among the highest throughput rates available in the industry for automating operations inline with injection molding machines.

Vacuum Heat Treatment Technology

Aimed at Lighter Weight, Higher Capacity, and Increased Mass Production of Automotive Parts: Shimadzu offers a rich line-up of small to large vacuum furnaces to meet the needs of various non-oxide ceramics sintering applications and improve maintainability for mass production.

For more information visit: https://www.sis.shimadzu.co.jp/

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Amphenol

Amphenol is a leading supplier of advanced interconnect systems, sensors and antennas for a growing array of automotive applications. In addition, the company has developed advanced technology solutions for hybrid and electric vehicles and are working with leading global customers to proliferate these advanced interconnect products into next-generation automobiles. The primary solutions for automotive include antennas, electric vehicles, engine management and control, exhaust monitoring and cleaning, hybrid vehicles, infotainment and communications, lighting, power management, safety and security systems, sensing systems, telematics systems and transmission systems.

Amphenol is one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and marketers of connectors and interconnect systems, antennas solutions, sensors and high-speed cable. Connector and connector system solutions include fiber optic interconnect, harsh environment interconnect, high-speed interconnect, power interconnect, power distribution and busbars and radio frequency (RF) interconnect products. Sensors and sensor-based product solutions include gas and moisture sensors, level sensors, position sensor, pressure sensors, temperature sensors and vibration sensors. Value-added cable assemblies include cable assemblies and harnesses, cable management products and backplane interconnect systems. Cable solutions include coaxial cable, power cable and specialty cable. Amphenol provides combiner/splitter products, flexible and rigid printed circuit boards, hinges and molded parts.

For more information visit: www.amphenol-cs.com

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CANDERA

HMI design with CGI Studio

Candera CGI Studio is a scalable and hardware independent HMI design software. It enables the creation of brilliant and customizable embedded UI solutions of all kinds for the automotive area and beyond. The special USP of this GUI creation tool are its user-friendly interface and the high performance representation of 2D / 3D display elements and animations.

CGI Studio comes with ready-to-use HMI controls, an AI based Smart Importer and integrated state machines enabling to display the logics with only a few clicks. The open architecture of CGI Studio allows deep integration and automatization into your company’s workflow. 

With CGI Studio 3.11’s ability to import directly from Adobe XD, HMI creation is now faster than ever

For users of CGI Studio, time-to-market is of high priority. This understanding is reflected in the main new features of CGI Studio 3.11. These features include an improved user interface, the award-winning Smart Importer’s new ability to import graphics directly from Adobe XD, accompanying documentation to help integrate CGI Studio 3.11 into an automotive Cybersecurity environment according to the ISO/SAE 21434 standard, and a new extended Control set to speed up HMI creation.

For more information visit: https://cgistudio.at/

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NOVOSENSE 

Automotive Electronic Solution enabled by NOVOSENSE

Comprehensive Analog Chip Product Portfolio of NOVOSENSE Contributes to the Rapid Development of xEVs

NOVOSENSE Microelectronics is a highly robust and reliable analog and mixed signal IC design company. Since its establishment in 2013, the company has been focusing on signal sensing, system interconnection and power drive, providing comprehensive semiconductor products and solutions such as sensor, signal chain, isolator, interface, power driver, power management, which are widely used in automotive, industrial control, information communication and consumer electronics markets.

With the mission of “Sense and Drive the Future, Build a Green, Smart and Connected World with Semiconductors”, the company is committed to providing chip-level solutions to link the digital world and the real world.

For more information visit: www.novosns.com

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INFINITY Engineering Products

Custom Air Springs

Vehicle designers can take full advantage of the benefits of air spring technologies by working with Goodyear Air Springs design and engineering teams to develop air springs that are optimized for specific applications.

Flex Members — Thicker Reinforced Woven Material Bellows: Goodyear Air Springs flex members are thicker and include a tighter cord than the competition, providing excellent rubber wall and internal splice strength, helping to increase the life cycle of your product and reducing cost-per-mile.

Sleeve Air Springs

Goodyear Air Springs sleeve-style air springs provide operator and passenger comfort through truck and bus driver seat springs, truck cab vibration isolation systems and ride springs for passenger vehicles and light trucks. Sleeve air springs are also ideal for use as actuators and isolators in industrial applications.

Sleeve Performance; Sleeve air springs incorporate a flexible member without the use of an internally molded bead. The flexible member is attached to the end retainers by pinching the material between the end retainers and exterior crimp rings, which are then swaged to the proper diameter. For Cab and Specialty Industrial Applications. Designed for a smoother ride in cab, or on seat for driver comfort.

Super Cushion Bellows Air Springs

Goodyear Air Springs Super-Cushion bellows air springs are superior quality products, designed and built for durability, performance and value. Super-Cushion bellows air springs operate dependably in the toughest conditions. With quality built into every Super-Cushion air spring, they are made to last.

Bellows Air Springs Styles: Bellows air springs have one, two or three convolutions in a flexible member. There are two styles of bellows designs:

  • Crimped design bellows air springs feature an end retainer that is permanently attached to the air spring by crimping a retainer around the built-in bead wire of the flexible member, or bellow.
  • Sleeve style bellows offer similar characteristic to crimped design bellows, but the flexible member is constructed without internally molded bead wires, much like that of a rolling lobe bellow. The end retainers are permanently attached by pinching the flexible member between the end retainers and external crimp rings, which are then swaged to the proper diameter.

Super Cushion Rolling Lobe

Goodyear Air Springs Super Cushion air springs give your trucks, trailers and buses the best in safety, productivity and long life. Our rolling lobe air springs provide constant-level hauling and deliver trouble-free service.

Improve Safety and Load Hauling Stability: Super Cushion air ride springs offer a quiet, cushioned ride that helps improve driver comfort by reducing fatigue, which keeps them more alert. On rough roads, vehicles with Goodyear Air Springs Super Cushion rolling lobe air bags bounce less than those with steel springs, helping drivers remain in control. Plus, cargo stays safer with improved protection from shock and vibration.

For more information visit: https://infinityairsprings.com/

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ECG-KOKUSAI Co Ltd.

Coil tester

Impulse Winding Tester DWX Series – DWX-01A (1000V) – 05A (5000V) – 10(10000V)

  • Definitive low inductance coil test!
  • Clear waveform display of 10μH coil

With the advance requirement of miniaturization and high frequency technology of coil products, the DWX tester is designed to test other coils and low inductance coils used in high end electronic components. Through the use of impulse power source with high speed switch , highly efficient input circuit, and high speed A/D sampling circuit, the DWX tester can offer a new solution to the low inductance coil tests.

How does the impulse windign tester work?

The impluse coil-winding tests the electrical characteristics of coil winding without damaging the sample. The prerequisite conditions for quality of a coil can be detected at just a glance. The detection is carried out when the same electric impulse by capacitor discharge is applied to the master and the test coils. The voltage dacay waveform is generated in response to the impluse, related to the Q-factor and inductance (impedance) of the coil. In this sense, the tester can detect turn and layer short, the differences in the number of turns and the matericak of the core. If high impluse voltage is applied, the poor insulation will appear as a corona of layer discharge.

For more information visit: http://www.ecginc.co.jp/english/

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TCS Autoscape – Autonomous Vehicle Solutions

  • The TCS Autoscape – Autonomous Vehicle Solutions suite accelerates AV development and drastically improves a manufacturer’s time-to-market.
  • The solutions offer end-to-end capabilities across vehicle engineering, data management, and algorithm development and deployment.
  • TCS partners with leading technology and solution providers to help customers seamlessly build their AV technology stack.

In their endeavour to shape the future of mobility, global car manufacturers are racing to develop SAE Level 5 autonomous vehicles (AV).

To develop fully autonomous vehicles, manufacturers have to efficiently manage myriad technology and business challenges. Among these are collecting and analyzing petabyte-scale driving data. Technology teams then use the data to develop and deploy algorithms to guide AVs in the real world.

Autoscape facilitates the development of AVs using leading-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to transform the car into an agile, customer-centric product. The solution suite also improves the productivity and quality of vehicle data management services. TCS’ proprietary Machine First Delivery Model helps customers build complete AVs by accelerating time-to-market and optimizing capital expenditure.

To make L5 AVs a reality, manufacturers must harness the right data. To achieve this, engineering and IT teams need to: 

  • Seamlessly collect and manage petabyte-scale autonomous driving data from in-vehicle recorders.
  • Search, analyze, and interpret petabyte-scale data collected from autonomous vehicles across multiple test locations.
  • Optimize the life cycle management of AV data and ensure secure access to globally distributed teams.
  • Curate perception data from sensors such as cameras, lidars, and radars and generate training datasets at scale.
  • Ensure robust verification and validation of AV algorithms to ensure passenger safety.
  • Securely deploy software updates to AVs in near real time.

Autoscape leverages intelligent, agile, automated, and cloud capabilities across vehicle engineering, algorithm development, application life cycle and data management, and vehicle validation.

Autoscape comprises the following features: 

  • AV data services: Comprehensive compute infrastructure architecture, data management solution, AI workbench, and toolkits to manage AV data and accelerate AV development.
  • TCS Data Annotation Studio:Data curation solution with cost-effective workflow orchestration, model management, and best-in-class AI tools.
  • Smart validation: A simulation-led validation platform that is coverage-driven and enables AI-enhanced test case and scenario generation, and true edge case identification. The solution accelerates time to market, significantly reduces cost, and enhances the validation process.
  • Application life cycle management (ALM):This solution is underpinned by TCS’ ALM methodology, solutions, and industry-leading partner ALM solutions.

For more information visit: www.tcs.com/

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SEOUL ROBOTICS

LV5 CTRL TWR – A first of its kind ‘Autonomy Through Infrastructure’ solution

Level 5 Control Tower (LV5 CTRL TWR) is an autonomous fleet system that equips mesh network of sensors and computers on infrastructure to drive vehicles without requiring that any extra hardware to be placed on individual vehicles.

Seoul Robotics is in the early stage of commercial deployment with automotive OEMs to automate last-mile fleet logistics at their manufacturing facilities. Beyond OEMs, LV5 CTRL TWR can to transform fleet operations for a wide range of business applications ranging from vehicle distribution centers to car rental companies and trucking logistics.

LV5 CTRL TWR is a safe and reliable autonomous driving system, for use within controlled logistics grounds and parking lots. It performs in both indoor and outdoor environments, and in adverse weather conditions to provide 24/7 autonomous driving.

Hundreds of vehicles can be autonomously driven simultaneously in a controlled network, safely navigating around obstacles and other vehicles, with data from sensors on the infrastructure.

SENSR is an extremely robust and accurate 3D vision platform for LiDAR and 3D sensors. SENSR enables data from hundreds of sensors to be simultaneously fused, calibrated and processed with deep learning AI in real time, providing the localization information of all cars, personnel and physical entities within the LV5 CTRL TWR’s coverage area.

Seoul Robotics has partnered with major German automotive OEM BMW, and with the largest telecommunications company in Korea and leading provider of autonomous driving system 5G connectivity, KT, to commercialize LV5 CTRL TWR.

For more information visit: https://www.seoulrobotics.org/

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VicOne

With a vision to secure the vehicles of tomorrow, VicOne delivers a broad portfolio of cybersecurity software and services for the automotive industry. To address the rigorous needs of automotive manufacturers, VicOne solutions are designed to secure and scale with the specialized demands of the modern vehicle. VicOne is powered by a solid foundation in cybersecurity drawn from Trend Micro’s 30+ years in the industry, delivering unparalleled automotive protection and deep security insights that enable our customers to build secure as well as smart vehicles.

For more information visit: https://www.vicone.com/

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JHC Technology

JHC Technology is a professional industrial rugged computer manufacturer with more than 20 years of experience. JHC provides solutions for product series including embedded box PC, industrial touch panel PC, industrial multi-touch display, in-vehicle computer, edge AI GPU computer, automation controller, and Single-board computer (SBC) in response to different vertical market demands. The company guarantee two years of product warranty and support long-term supply.

JHC TECH’s In-Vehicle Computing Unit Supports ADAS Open Road Data Collection

In recent years, the automotive industry has been rapidly developing, paving the way for many innovations and new trends. With the rapid increase in consumer demand for high-performance cars, commercial vehicles with autonomous driving are gradually gaining recognition in the market. Safety is the most critical factor in the development process of autonomous vehicles. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is one of the key active safety systems for vehicles, closely related to the vehicle power system, brake system, and steering system. ADAS vehicle control system requires high reliability.

Automotive testing and functional evaluation is the most important part of confirming and improving smart driving functions, and its importance does not require any explanation. ADAS is one of the fastest-growing safety applications in intelligent networked vehicles, using a combination of sensors, cameras, and displays to provide a larger driver visual range and respond to dangerous situations in case of driver negligence.

For more information visit: https://www.jhc-technology.com/

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PERSOL Cross Technology

Transportation & Mobility – OEMs and innovators are redefining the future of mobility with industry-leading 3D EXPERIENCE solutions.

Explore Industry Solutions in our Virtual Vehicle Innovation Showroom

Transform future vehicle innovation: The next generation of new vehicles is accelerating faster than ever before. 3DEXPERIENCE platform can accelerate the development of your sustainable vehicle; including key domains of VEHICLE CONCEPT DESIGN, VEHICLE ENGINEERING, and VEHICLE MANUFACTURING. The next generation of new vehicles is accelerating faster than ever before.

Transportation & Mobility Solutions: Running on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Persol’s industry solutions deliver secure collaborative capabilities for real-time process simplification and acceleration across time-zones and domains of expertise. All solutions enable industry best practices out-of-the box, facilitating deployment, use and standardization. At the same time, they can be easily combined and scaled according to the needs of any user, enterprise or innovation ecosystem.

For more information visit: https://www.persol-pt.co.jp/en/

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WAS Automotive Lighting Manufacturer

WAS company is located in Poland, specializes in the production of lamps and reflective devices used in the automotive industry. The company is operating in the market since 1979. It uses the most modern technologies in the industry to offer top-class solutions in the field of automotive lighting. The company combines innovation with care for the environment, and openness to new trends with a thorough analysis of clients’ needs.

For more information visit: https://www.was.eu/

 

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The Next Generation of Power Quality Monitoring Technology—Helping Industrial Equipment Stay Healthy

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 17:01

Swarnab Banerjee, System Engineering Manager, ADI & Niranjan Chandrappa, Product Applications Engineer, ADI

According to a recent study published by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), large industrial facilities in the U.S. lose over $100 billion every year due to power problems, including power supply variations and voltage disturbances. When the lights flicker at home, it’s an annoyance. But when power is disturbed at a factory, it can cause the malfunction and early breakdown of expensive equipment. Subtle power quality events often pass through traditional protection networks undetected and contribute to equipment degradation over time. Furthermore, the source of many power quality disturbances are the loads connected to the same network, causing disturbances to propagate through adjacent facilities and buildings. In order to overcome power quality challenges, it is necessary to monitor inputs and disturbances generated by the load. Power quality monitoring can provide appropriate protection to equipment and can help identify suitable mitigation techniques that improve power quality.

If stakeholders take full advantage of the technology, their expensive infrastructure will benefit from clean power and an extended life.

Power quality refers to a wide variety of variations in the electric power supplied to utility customers. It can cover wiring problems, grounding issues, switching transients, load variations, and harmonic generations. In some cases, poor power quality can go undetected, yet damage expensive equipment. In Europe, the quality of electricity that is provided by a grid operator is defined by the reference parameters set in the national grid codes and the European standards (EN 50160). When the supply voltage is distorted, a device draws nonsinusoidal currents and can cause many technical problems such as overheating, malfunction, and premature aging. The nonsinusoidal current also causes thermal and insulation stress on network devices, such as transformers and feeder cables. Poor power quality ultimately results in financial losses caused by equipment downtime, increased maintenance activities, and shorter life times. In this article the impacts of poor power quality will be analyzed from the perspective of industrial equipment and how to maximize machine health.

Figure 1. Different sources of power quality problems in a) United States b) Europe.

Where Do Power Quality Disturbances Originate?

Figure 1a summarizes a study that the Electric Power Research Institute conducted for distribution power quality among 24 utilities throughout the U.S. The majority (85%) of power quality incidents originate from voltage dips or swells, harmonics and wiring, and grounding problems. Figure 1b shows the results of a different European Power Quality survey, which estimated that power quality problems in EU-25 countries create financial loss of more than $156 billion per year (€150 billion). In industrial settings, starting and stopping of heavy loads can result in voltage sags and swells that move the network voltages outside the standard operating condition. As most equipment is designed to operate within a certain operating condition, prolonged voltage dips and swells result in shutdowns and process outages. In today’s business climate, many companies are considering or already installing locally generated renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. In many cases, distributed generation sources introduce a need for switch mode power supplies in electrical installations. With the increased adoption of power electronics and switching power supplies, harmonics will become a more common source of power quality problems in industrial equipment. These types of power supplies can inject harmonics on electrical lines and degrade power quality so that everything tied to the supply network is impacted, including transformers and cables. Facility managers can often observe impacts of large harmonic currents as the network components get overloaded. In some cases, increases in total losses of 0.1% to 0.5% on network components can cause tripping of protection devices. Some other occurrences that can contribute to poor power quality include differential loading of phases, incorrect wiring and grounding schemes, load interactions, EMI/EMC, and switching of large reactive networks.

Figure 2. Visualization of network voltages and currents under different distortion effects.

Power Quality Standards

In order to cope with and manage power quality, one must find a reliable monitoring and reporting method. Some of the key standards created by industry are IEC 61000-4-30 Class A and Class S, IEC61000-4-7 harmonic measurements, and IEC61000-4-15 for flicker. Most utilities have adopted these power quality standards to develop and enforce regulations. In certain cases, utilities may penalize a customer if power quality standards do not meet regulations. Industry standards not only establish a common understanding of power quality in real-world applications, but also give users confidence they will have accurate data to solve problems and issues related to events. In electrical networks, voltage sags, swells, flickers, variation in nominal ratings, and distortion due to harmonics—all contain the key information regarding the electrical health of the network. Measurement accuracy is the key to providing reliable and repeatable results.

Applying Power Quality Monitoring to Improve Grid and Machine Health

Modern day power quality devices provide information that will benchmark the overall system performance, assist in preventive maintenance, monitor trends and conditions, assess network performance and sensitivity to process equipment, and improve energy rates. A network of power quality monitors can be installed on supply systems, and their raw measurement data can be aggregated to correlate and help identify sources of disturbances. Power quality monitors can also be a part of embedded equipment design for tighter integration and control. A unique electrical signature of a machine can be captured to understand overall health. Conclusions from data analysis and diagnostics can provide reliable input to design next-generation protection algorithms and products to improve power quality.

If equipment has already been deployed in a factory environment, the power quality profile can be used to determine the best mitigation techniques. For instance, power quality profiling of an industrial facility in India revealed significant distortions of voltage and current waveforms. After extensive analysis, a hybrid power factor correction system was installed in the factory. With the new correction system, the power factor changed from –0.5 to +0.9 and THD improved by 50%.

A Modern Power Quality Analyzer

In the past, designing a high accuracy, power quality analyzer required significant technical skill and often involved using discrete components and developing custom power quality measurement algorithms. A new class of power quality analog front ends (AFEs) integrates high performance ADCs with low drift overall gain and a DSP core. This integrated AFE reduces the complexity and cost associated with the discrete design approach and writing custom algorithms.

The integrated AFE calculates and provides power quality parameters such as sag, swell, rms, phase sequence error, and power factor values. It also obtains line frequency harmonic content from the input signal. Analog Devices has mastered a world class, power quality monitor front end called the ADE9000. It absorbs most complexity in calculations and simplifies the time and effort to implement a power quality monitoring system.

Figure 3. Information and reporting from power quality monitors.

Figure 4. Functional block diagram of ADE9000. Highly integrated, multiphase energy, and power quality monitoring IC.

Figure 5. Typical power quality monitoring system signal chain.

Opportunities for Big Data Analytics That Drive Better Energy Intelligence

As individual devices in industrial settings become more connected and IoT deployments accelerate, power quality information from distributed equipment will be collected and leveraged in new ways. For example, stakeholders can analyze historic trends and enable early detection of an emerging problem. Within a network, real-time data from multiple nodes can be used to identify and isolate a disturbance. Data analytics for machine diagnostics, preventive maintenance, and isolation of problem loads are new ways to reduce process interruptions, increase equipment lifetime, and improve uptime.

Summary The total energy demand worldwide is expected to grow approximately 5% annually. The magnitude and complexity of equipment connected to the grid will grow and power quality disturbances will increase proportionally. Modern businesses will grow increasingly dependent on electrical energy that is clean, reliable, and always on. By using next-generation power quality monitoring technology, industrial equipment owners can expect to see fewer cases of premature machine failure or wear out and benefit from clean power.

The post The Next Generation of Power Quality Monitoring Technology—Helping Industrial Equipment Stay Healthy appeared first on ELE Times.

‘Extraordinary properties’: Scientists develop new ultra-fast electronic devices for 6G and beyond

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 16:29

By Farhad Mirmohammadsadeghi

Having things like ultra-high-definition streaming at our fingertips on our mobile phones is something we’ve only been able to enjoy thanks to 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communications.

But say our future daily lives will include satellite Internet, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles and smart homes: they will need even more high-speed connectivity, and technologies capable of processing huge amounts of data extremely quickly.

Accelerating wireless communications requires quicker signals, with electronics operating at higher frequencies – the number of oscillations per second, or how fast a signal can go from point A to point B.

Currently, communication systems can use signals with speeds of up to tens of gigahertz (1 billion oscillations per second), but for future 6G communications, they will need signals as swift as one terahertz (1 trillion oscillations per second).

Unfortunately, right now electronic devices such as transistors cannot function at such high speeds, resulting in what’s frequently referred to as the “terahertz gap”. This limitation could impede the progress of upcoming technologies.

Electronic ‘metadevices’

Iranian researcher Mohammad Samizahed Nikoo and his team at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a new type of device as an alternative to transistors and diodes that is capable of transmitting much higher speeds.

Conventional electronic devices work based on controlling electrons: there is a “gate” that either lets the electrons go, or forces them to stop. But the scientists came up with a new approach to electronics that controls electromagnetic transmission without injecting a single electron.

HIGHLIGHT

These high speeds enable us to transfer a substantial amount of information quickly, meeting the demands of 6G telecommunications

They called this concept an “electronic metadevice” – because it can do much more than a normal device. In fact, it exhibits “extraordinary electronic properties,” the study says.

Having things like ultra-high-definition streaming at our fingertips on our mobile phones is something we’ve only been able to enjoy thanks to 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communications.

But say our future daily lives will include satellite Internet, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles and smart homes: they will need even more high-speed connectivity, and technologies capable of processing huge amounts of data extremely quickly.

Accelerating wireless communications requires quicker signals, with electronics operating at higher frequencies – the number of oscillations per second, or how fast a signal can go from point A to point B.

Currently, communication systems can use signals with speeds of up to tens of gigahertz (1 billion oscillations per second), but for future 6G communications, they will need signals as swift as one terahertz (1 trillion oscillations per second).

Unfortunately, right now electronic devices such as transistors cannot function at such high speeds, resulting in what’s frequently referred to as the “terahertz gap”. This limitation could impede the progress of upcoming technologies.

It uses a “completely different kind of switch, with a distinct working principle and mechanism” than transistors, Samizahed Nikoo told Euronews Next.

“Instead of relying on the movement of electrons, we manage electromagnetic interactions to achieve much faster speeds. This new electronic switch allows us to control rapid signals,” he explained.

10 times faster than 5G – and perhaps even faster than that

Samizahed Nikoo and his team managed to transmit data at terahertz frequencies of up to 100 gigabits per second, which is already 10 times faster than 5G, and 100 times faster than 4G.

“These high speeds enable us to transfer a substantial amount of information quickly, meeting the demands of 6G telecommunications,” he added.

Their findings suggest that such electronic meta devices may be able to achieve even higher speeds and pave the way for wireless connections with data speeds in the terabits per second (in the thousands of gigabits per second).

In other words, according to the team, these devices could not only easily handle the speeds required for 6G, but they may also usher in the next generation of ultra-fast communications.

Companies like Huawei, Apple, and Ericsson are already working on developing new semiconductor materials – other than silicon – to make transistors more efficient for 6G telecommunications.

Samizadeh Nikoo said his team, by contrast, developed “a new type of electronic device that can be constructed on any type of semiconductor”.

“This means that we can achieve 6G speeds by focusing on economical silicon, and by implementing the device on new semiconductor materials, we can achieve even higher speeds for future post-6G telecommunications”.

“A crucial aspect of this novel electronic device that makes it viable is that it can be produced without requiring any special conditions using standard semiconductor industry processes,” he added.

Samizadeh Nikoo said he and his team expect this device to be used both as standalone and integrated circuits.

There are lingering fears that the race towards ever faster Internet connection through 5G networks may have detrimental effects on the environment and on human health, and Samizadeh Nikoo said research is ongoing to ensure the technology is safe.

“However, the intriguing aspect of 6G telecommunications is that the extremely high-frequency waves employed, known as terahertz, lack the capability to penetrate deep into the skin tissue,” he said.

“This means that they only enter the surface of human skin by around 0.1mm, thus reducing the likelihood of any adverse effects on internal organs or tissues”.

The post ‘Extraordinary properties’: Scientists develop new ultra-fast electronic devices for 6G and beyond appeared first on ELE Times.

How To Design Fieldbus Agnostic Smart Factory Sensors

ELE Times - Tue, 03/21/2023 - 16:20

By Michael Jackson and Brian Condell

If you’re about to start designing a smart factory sensor, you’ll want to ensure that you can do it as quickly and efficiently as possible while maximizing the number of customers who can use it. This blog presents design ideas for smart factory sensors (temperature and pressure) that can communicate with a PLC regardless of the type of Fieldbus or industrial ethernet network used in a factory process.

Temperature Sensor Transducers – What are the Options?

The most common temperature transducers are 2-,3-, and 4-wire resistance-temperature detectors (RTD), thermocouples, and thermistors, each with relative advantages and disadvantages. If you have the time, there is a vast choice of signal conditioning and data converter ICs for you to build and debug a custom analog front end (AFE),

Is there a Quicker Way to Turn Around my Design?

If time is of the essence, a fully integrated AFE, like the AD7124 or AD4130 sigma-delta ADCs (with integrated PGA), could be a better option. Suppose you’re designing a sensor for an application that requires a thermocouple. In that case, the MAX31855 is a ready-to-use thermocouple-to-digital converter IC (that also performs linearization) and cold-junction compensation. If you’re planning an RTD-based sensor, consider using the MAX31865 RTD-to-Digital IC. Suppose you don’t have time to investigate different transducer types and simply want to design a sensor to quickly and accurately provide a digital temperature reading – in this case, the MAX31875 or the ADT7420 digital temperature sensor ICs are ideal ‘one-stop-shop’ solutions. These integrate a transducer, AFE, and linearizer in a single package that interfaces to a microcontroller via an I2C. Figure 1 illustrates each of these options.

Figure 1 – Alternative temperature sensor signal chains

What about Pressure Sensors?

Strain gauges and load cells are commonly used to generate an electrical signal in pressure sensors, and conveniently, you can use the AD7124 and AD4130  AFEs with these too. Alternatively, you can use the ADA4558 bridge signal conditioner IC to handle linearization if you want to remove this overhead from your microcontroller (Figure 2).

Figure 2 – Alternative pressure sensor signal chains

How have Sensors Traditionally been Connected to Industrial Networks?

Typically, sensors were designed to communicate using a single Fieldbus or Industrial Ethernet protocol.  However, this approach requires you to include a network interface IC inside the sensor itself, which adds significantly to its cost while limiting the sensor’s market to those customers using that protocol. Targeting your sensor for another network means a costly and time-consuming redesign of your sensor using a different interface IC. Also, the number and type of diagnostic features vary significantly by network type (with some having none at all), so depending on which protocol your sensor is designed for, it may be difficult for customers to maintain your sensor and identify any performance issues that arise with it, after installation. Therefore, designing your sensor in a way that allows it to work on any industrial network makes more sense as it reduces costs while broadening your market.

How can I make my Sensor ‘Network Agnostic’?

You can do this using IO-Link®, a 3-wire industrial communications standard designed to link sensors and actuators with industrial control networks. In IO-Link applications, a transceiver acts as the physical layer interface to a microcontroller running the data-link layer protocol while supporting digital inputs and outputs (up to 24V). The advantage of using IO-Link is that it carries four different types of transmissions – Process Data, Value Status, Device Data, and Events. These can flag if your sensor malfunctions and allow it to be quickly located. The MAX14828 is a low-power, IO-Link device transceiver which is available in a (4mm x 4mm) 24-pin TQFN package and a (2.5mm x 2.5mm) wafer-level package (WLP) and is specified over the extended -40°C to +125°C temperature range.

How does the IO-Link Device Transceiver Communicate with an Industrial Network?

The IO-Link device transceiver communicates (via a cable) with an IO-Link Master, which connects to an industrial network through a protocol interface IC (like the ADIN2299 for industrial ethernet). The MAX14819A is a low-power, dual-channel, IO-Link master transceiver with sensor/actuator power supply controllers that fully comply with the latest IO-Link and binary input standards and test specifications, IEC 61131-2, IEC 61131-9 SDCI, and IO-Link 1.1.3.

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