Electronic Design

Components/ Interconnects/ Packaging: Components

Components Scale Down Size, Scale Up Performance

Size reductions in capacitors and inductors will enhance their value in power-conversion designs as newer chemistries and magnetics designs prove their worth. For supercapacitors and other components, cost reductions will drive the newer technologies into the mainstream, where they can fuel development of new applications.

In the relay area, electromechanical and solid-state types continue to improve their performance in small signal and power applications. Meanwhile, circuit protection provides many opportunities for the development of application-specific devices. Such devices must overcome the challenges imposed by advanced IC technology and emerging applications.

>BECAUSE OF THEIR LOW ESR, multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) will continue to replace tantalums. Fueling this trend is the ongoing size reduction of these parts. For example, Taiyo Yuden, a multilayer capacitor supplier, currently offers a 100-µF part in a 1210-case size, and as much as 22 µF in an 0805. In the next two years, the company expects to offer 470 µF in a 1210 case and as much as 100 µF in an 0805. There are also plans to develop a 1000-µF capacitor in a 2220 package.

>SOLID POLYMER TANTALUMS, with their low ESR, excellent high-frequency characteristics, and low package height, will make gains. Very-low-ESR devices such as Sanyo's TPD series currently offer a 2.5-V rated capacitor with 680 µF and 5 m‡ of ESR in a 7.3- by 4.3- by 3.8-mm case. As with the ceramic capacitors, the solid polymer tantalums are continually shrinking. So, expect to see the high values of solid polymer capacitors in smaller case sizes.

>CONTINUED COST REDUCTIONS will push supercapacitors into more applications. The 5- to 10-F supercaps, which sold for $20 three years ago, now run under $3 in volume. Expect to see another 20% reduction in pricing this year.

>SUPERCAPACITORS HAVE TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL in the high-power realm of transportation, where one day they will hopefully help to power hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs). With these applications in mind, capacitor vendors are developing roadmaps for the commercialization of very large supercaps. For example, Maxwell Technologies currently produces 2700-F cells at a cost of $100 per cell in volume. In the coming year, the company plans to lower cell cost to $50, making supercaps viable in hybrid-electric trucks and buses. The anticipated cost reductions will be achieved by ramping up production and developing lower-cost carbon dielectric material.

>IN MAGNETICS, expect a growing number of planar inductor products and vendors. Planar devices now cost about 20% to 40% more than their wirewound equivalents, but the market is pushing for price parity. Also look for more helical wound inductors to satisfy high-current and low-profile requirements.

>SIGNAL-LEVEL ELECTROMECH-ANICAL RELAYS (about 2 A or less) will increasingly meet global standards. Compliance with Telcordia requirements for second-level lightning-strike protection will be more common. Also expect to see relay size cut in half to suit line card applications. Solid-state relays (SSRs) for broadband will handle higher bandwidths with pc-board types handling above 10 GHz.

>SOLID-STATE RELAYS should take on higher-current applications as vendors craft better power ICs. These parts promise longevity, reliability, and smaller size versus electromechanical relays. Moreover, they can offer programmability.

>MORE APPLICATION-SPECIFIC ESD SOLUTIONS for high-speed applications, such as USB 2.0, IEEE-1394B, and InfiniBand will be crafted. Many will also integrate EMI filtering. To satisfy demands for ESD-protection components with low capacitance, vendors will continue to develop polymer-style and semiconductor-based ESD protection parts to overcome their limitations.

>RISING CLOCK FREQUENCIES and the proliferation of wireless protocols, such as IEEE 802.11, make EMI a greater threat to system reliability. That trend drives the development of components that can filter EMI across a broad range of frequencies into the gigahertz region.

>THE RACE IS ON to develop arc fault circuit breakers for military and aerospace. Arc fault detection is needed to distinguish an arcing event from a short circuit and to locate the arc so the fault can be repaired. Though this technology exists, the challenge is to fit both the arc detection and arc location circuitry within the Mil-standard MS3320 package (0.559 by 0.768 in.). So far, no one has done so, but some companies have managed to fit the arc detection function.

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