Electronic Design
Top 101 Components of 2013

Top 101 Components of 2013

Survey Says Design Engineers Have Power On Their Minds: Supercap, DC/DC Converters and Charging Coil Garner Four Of The Top 10 Spots On Annual List

Welcome to our annual Top 101 Components feature, which includes a list of 101 of most sought after components in the electronics OEM.

Download the 2013 Top 101 Components List

When we tallied the results for this year’s Top 101 Components list, we found that many design engineers are thinking about power and seeking out more information about innovative power sources. In fact, 23 of the products on the list are categorized as power sources and four of the top 10 components are power-related products: the CLK series of supercapacitors from Cellergy, the LXDC series of dc/dc converters for Murata Americas, the E200E series of dc/dc converters from MicroPower Direct and the IWAS-3827EC-50 charging coil from Vishay Intertechnology.

ST Sensor Claims Number One Spot

Figure 1. STMicroelectronics LIS3MDL magnetometeris a 3-axis MEM device.

Though power sources made a strong showing on the list, the component at the very top of the list is a sensor, the LIS3MDL magnetometer from STMicroelectronics (Fig. 1). This is ST’s first discrete magnetometer, and it sparked quite a bit of interest among our readers. Announced back in February, the LIS3MDL is just now going to mass production.

One of the interesting applications of this standalone 3-axis magnetometer is for indoor navigation, where it reliably calculates dead-reckoning when no satellite signal is available. The part can also be combined with other discrete sensors from ST such as a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer or 3-axis MEMS gyroscope, to build sensors with as many as 9 degrees of freedom.

ST suggests using its iNEMO Engine Sensor Fusion software to further enhance location-detection capabilities with these sensors. Sensor Fusion software helps coordinate any combination of ST sensors to create systems with multiple degrees of freedom quickly and efficiently for location-based services, enhanced motion-based gaming, and pedestrian dead-reckoning for indoor and multi-floor navigation. For example adding a MEMS pressure sensor, for altitude sensing, can enhance in-building accuracy, as well as support extended smartphone functionality and location-based operator services.

 

ST has some indication of how this sensor might be used in novel applications due to its experience with a 6x iNemo part, an accelerometer plus magnetometer. For example, HAPILABS, a company based in Hong Kong, has developed a product called HAPIfork, which helps individuals monitor and track their eating habits. With the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations, the device alerts users to the fact that they are eating too fast. HAPIfork uses an ST accelerometer and a magnetometer module, as well as an STM32 microcontroller. 

 

Cree LEDs Take Second Place

One of the hottest areas in electronics today is solid state lighting, so it makes complete sense that new LEDs would pique our readers’ interest. In this particular case, the product that made the greatest impression on our readers during the past year is the Cree XLamp series of LEDs (Fig. 2). There are two of them: the discrete (XB-D) and multicolor (XM-L).

2. Cree’s XLamp series LEDs provide discrete (XB-D) and multicolor (XM-L) LED options for applications ranging from architectural to vehicle and display lighting.

 

Single-color XB-D LEDs are designed to reduce system costs for lighting manufacturers by doubling the lumens per dollar of previously available LEDs. Built on Cree’s SC³ Technology Platform, the XB-D White LED delivers up to 139 lumens and 136 lumens per watt in cool white (6000 K) or up to 107 lumens and 105 lumens per watt in warm white (3000 K), both at 350 mA and 85°C.

Multicolor XM-L LEDs combine very high efficacy at very high drive currents, delivering 1000 lumens with 100 lumens-per-watt efficacy at 3 A in a compact, 5-mm x 5-mm footprint. These LEDs are designed for very-high-lumen applications such as high-bay, indoor commercial or roadway lighting. The XM-L LED can lower total system cost by reducing the number of LEDs and optics in the system.

Cree wasn’t the only company that placed an LED in the top 10 of our list. OSRAM Opto Semiconductors secured the seventh position with its Oslon Black Flat LED (Fig. 3). Designed for automotive frontlighting applications, the LED features high light output at high currents, uniform light distribution, thermal stability, and strong contrast. The LED employs Osram’s UX:3 chip technology, which is based on the company’s ThinGaN process. This technology uses a metallic mirror below its active layer and a well-defined scattering surface for optimized light extraction.

Figure 3. OSRAM Opto Semiconductors' Oslon Black Flat LED is designed for automotive frontlighting applications,

Download the 2013 Top 101 Components List

 

Power Quartet Led By Cellergy Supercap

When Cellergy announced last year a supercapacitor with double the capacitance of the company’s CLG series, our readers took notice. The new CLK series comes in two form factors 17-mm by 17-mm and 28-mm by 17-mm and has an extended temperature range from -40°C to 85°C. Capacitance ranges from 30 to 240 mF (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Cellergy doubled the capacitance of the company’s CLG supercapacitor series,

Since supercapacitors are generally used for pulse applications and in conjunction with batteries to assist in delivering energy to the load, typical applications will include GSM/GPRS transmitters, smart meters, solid-state drives, USB-powered audio systems, and so forth.

As for future plans, CTO Eli Alon said, “Cellergy is further enlarging the offering of the CLK series to include both additional voltages and a lower Leakage Current (LC) version. These new products are not officially launched yet, so for more details please contact Cellergy."

Let’s move on now to the dc/dc converters that nailed the next two spots on the list. Small size is the attraction for both of these devices. The LXDC series of micro dc-dc converters from Murata Americas were touted as the world’s smallest when they debuted in June of 2012 (Fig. 5). The LXDC2UR has a current rating of 600 mA and measures just 2.3-mm by 2.5-mm, while the LXDC3EP has a current rating of 1-A and measures just 3.2-mm by 3.5-mm.

Figure 5. Murata Americas debuted world’s smallest micro dc-dc converters with the LXDC series.

Both devices combine a number of Murata’s proprietary materials and technical capabilities, specifically ferrite material expertise, multilayer processing and power module design. A key feature of the LXDC line is the embedding of the power inductor within the actual ferrite substrate. By utilizing this structure, the converter IC can be mounted directly above the power inductor coil with almost no pattern length to diminish leakage radiation noise. The I/O connections are also routed through this same ferrite substrate to create a function similar to ferrite beads that significantly reduces conductive noise. I/O capacitors are incorporated into the same package as well.

James Reeves, Applications Engineer at Murata Americas said, “The LXDC2UR and 3EP were both well received by design engineers. We’ve now expanded the product line up to accommodate for higher voltage and current needs.”

Another dc/dc converter in the top ten is the MicroPower Direct E200E series (Fig. 6). These devices come in a 4-pin SIP package, which is a popular form factor with our readers. Six models within the series operate from 5- and 12-V dc inputs, and have single outputs of 5, 12, or 15 V dc. All deliver up to 2 W of power and are specifically designed to provide a reliable voltage conversion and/or power-line isolations for space-critical board-level applications.

Figure 6. MicroPower Direct E200E series comes in the popular 4-pin SIP package.

Rounding out the power sources quartet is a product in the rapidly growing area of wireless charging. Vishay Intertechnology released a charging coil just about a year ago, the IWAS-3827EC-50 (Fig. 7). It’s a powdered-iron-based receiving coil expressly targeted at the wireless charging of 5-V portable electronics. Compliant with the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the coil measures just 38 by 27 mm. Compared to the previous generation IWAS-4832FF-50, the IWAS-3827EC-50 is 44% smaller, yet has equivalent performance, with greater than 70% efficiency, and costs less. By the way, the IWAS-4832FF-50 made it into the top 10 of last year’s list.

Figure 7. Vishay Intertechnology's IWAS-3827EC-50 charging coiltargets wireless charging of 5-V portable electronics.

Tiny Stepper-Motor Drive Makes A Big Splash

Securing sixth position on the Top 101 list is a tiny stepper-motor drive module from Haydon Kerk Motion Systems called the DCM4826X (Fig. 8). The mounting plate of the totally enclosed unit measures just 64 by 60 mm, with mounting-hole center-to-center distances of 52 by 38 mm. Total thickness is just 34.4 mm. Due to its small size, the DCM4826X is well-suited for multi-axis stepper-motor applications, in which space is at a premium. The DCM4826X is a bipolar, two-phase chopper drive, so it can be used with rotary stepper motors or stepper-motor-based linear actuators. The drive is integrated using the company’s PDE User Interface via an RS-485 protocol or a computer USB port.

Figure 8. The DCM4826X is well-suited for multi-axis stepper-motor applications due to its small size.

Wind Speed, Anyone?

Ninth on the Top 101 is a sensor that measures wind speed and transmits the data wirelessly. Developed by Mantracourt, the T24-WSS-PR-A can make high-accuracy measurements over a 5- to 125-mph range (Fig. 9). The device features a three-cup rotor pressed on a stainless-steel shaft with a Delron body fitted with bronze Rulon bushings. The anemometer’s output value can be calibrated and configured to the user’s requirements. On the wireless side, the device powers down between transmissions to maximize battery life in the field. This sensor is one of a family of products in Mantracourt’s T24 wireless telemetry system.

Figure 9. Mantracourt's T24-WSS-PR-A can make high-accuracy measurements over a 5- to 125-mph range.

A PCB Connector Connects With Readers

As was the case last year, just one product from the Interconnects category made it into the top 10. This year, it was the SBS75x family of touch-safe, high-power connectors from Anderson Power Products that was a hit with our readers (Fig. 10). The female part is a right-angle connector that sits on the pc board. This dual-pole connector incorporates 105-A power contacts and four auxiliary power contacts for applications requiring single or low-power capability up to 20 A. The male signal contacts on the wire side come in four lengths when sequencing is required. They also provide a last mate/first break connection in relation to the power contacts. The touch-safe mating interface protects the user by eliminating finger contact with live circuits (per UL1977, section 10.2). The device saves space and increases design flexibility by eliminating the need to bring wires to the PCB. Press-fit containers on the housing secure and position the connector to the PCB prior to soldering.

Figure 10. Anderson Power Products' SBS75x family of touch-safe, high-power connectors was a hit with engineers.

This wraps up our look at the top 10 components on the Top 101 Components list. Download the entire 101 Components 2013 List (.PDF) and check out our component image galleries.

Top 101 Components 2013 Image Galleries

Methodology: For our yearly list, Electronicdesign.com’s editors select their favorite components that we have featured on our website in the past 12 months, and we also ask vendors to tell us what they think their best products were within the same time frame. We then survey our readers and ask them to pick their favorite components from this consolidated list. 

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