Electronic Design

European Power Developments Defy Global Downturn

The tight economy is applying pressure on designers with tighter power requirements. A smaller power footprint can go a long way in increasing revenue—both for customers and for the designers themselves. These efforts in eliminating waste are finding results in set-top boxes, organic photovoltaic (PV) devices, and transient voltage suppressor (TVS) diodes.

Set-Top Savings

Over in Geneva, Switzerland, STMicroelectronics (ST) has been addressing developments in the MOSFET and set-top box (STB) areas. The company, which is one of the biggest providers of semiconductor products for STBs, is extending its commitment to saving energy in STB applications.

Consumers buying STBs make their purchase decision by balancing product features against overall product cost. ST believes this will change as future consumers also look at the total cost of ownership, which includes the initial purchase price as well as power running costs and disposal of the equipment when it’s no longer required.

Accordingly, ST’s STB design strategies focus on reducing waste energy by including flexible power management features that monitor and adjust the energy consumed by STB components. These components can be outside the STB, in the case of the low-noise block (LNB) within a satellite dish, for example, large subsystems within the STB such as a hard disk, or even individual modules within the silicon devices themselves.

ST’s latest STB devices, including the high-definition single-chip STi7105, STi7111, and STi7141 decoders, are supplied with a software driver called STPOWER that controls all power aspects of the device. This application programming interface (API), which can be called from any application within the STB software stack, is common to all devices, allowing flexible control at a component level for the creation of application-specific active- and passive-standby modes.

Moving on to ST’s MOSFET technology, its latest innovation is a component that the company is calling the first MDmesh V devices to achieve an RDS(ON) of 0.079 Ω at 650 V—and that’s in a TO-220 and D2PAK footprint.

The STx42N65M5 MDmesh V family offers additional package options, including the surface-mount D2PAK as well as TO-220FP, I2PAK, and TO-247 (see the figure). The STx16N65M5 versions, also at 650 V, are rated at a 0.299-Ω RDS(ON) and 12 A. ST’s roadmap for MDmesh V 650-V MOSFETs includes higher-current devices with an RDS(ON) as low as 0.022 Ω in a Max247 and 0.038 Ω in a TO-247.

PV Collaboration

European nanoelectronics research institute IMEC and U.S. chemical and materials company Cytec Industries have agreed to jointly develop a commercially viable technology that will improve stability and extend the operating lifetime of organic PV devices. This collaboration will be approached from two different angles.

First, the intrinsic stability issues of organic solar cells will be tackled by stabilizing the nanomorphology of the active material blend. IMEC has already shown that the photoactive blend of conjugated polymers and fullerene acceptor molecules is prone to phase segregation under the influence of time and temperature. To solve this, IMEC and Cytec will combine their chemical synthesis and materials processing knowledge.

Concurrently, the ingress of extrinsic degradation sources of oxygen and water vapor will be suppressed by the development of an appropriate barrier, encapsulation technology. The technology solutions will build on Cytec’s core competencies of interfacial engineering and coating technology and on IMEC’s background in organic solar-cell processing and analysis.

High Surge Capability

In Eindhoven, the Netherlands, NXP Semiconductors has developed a range of TVS diodes housed in its new FlatPower package and designated the SOD123.

Offering a 400-W peak pulse power rating (10/1000 µs), the new diodes dissipate around 67 W/mm2 surge per printed-circuit board (PCB) area. The design advantage of these high surge capabilities over smaller areas will enable engineers to save space on the PCB while delivering good power performance. It also allows the integration of more functions on the PCB.

The TVS diodes are designed to protect voltage-sensitive components against transient voltage in various electronic applications like power supplies, data or signal lines, medical equipment, and telecommunication circuits.

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