Electronic Design

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LEDs are poised for a breakthrough in notebook backlighting. The increasing efficiency of white LEDs is positioning them to replace cold-cathode fluorescents (CCFLs) in backlighting LCD flat-panel displays for TVs and monitors this year. Thanks to recent advances in LED brightness, banks of red, green, and blue LEDs will be used this year to replace CCFLs as the LCD backlights in some flat-panel monitors and TVs. In the first generation of LED backlights, the three colors will be powered simultaneously to produce white light. But in the second generation, the red, green, and blue will be powered sequentially to produce different colors as needed. We may see LED backlights replace CCFLs in notebook computers by as early as 2003. Their higher efficiency could double the runtime of the notebook's battery. They will simultaneously eliminate the high-voltage inverter that CCFLs require for backlight power.

Oscillators will continue to move up in frequency due to the growth of communications protocols, such as OC-192 and 10-Gbit Ethernet, and high-speed system interfaces, like PCIX, RapidIO, and InfiniBand. Expect growing demand for oscillators that can produce frequencies above 125 MHz using fundamental-mode oscillation—inverted mesa and SAW—with low clock jitter.

In the automotive area, the electrification of the car continues on many fronts:

  • Dual 42/12-V electrical systems will be further developed, boosting the output of the automotive electrical power plant and implementing fuel-saving features such as start-stop operation using an integrated starter alternator. Systems of 42 V will require the development of semiconductors, passives, circuit-protection devices, switches, relays, and other components rated for higher voltages.
  • Hybrid electric vehicles will require continued development of passive components used in under-the-hood power generation, conversion, and storage.
  • Conversion of purely mechanical systems like braking and steering to electrically controlled systems will continue with the goal of increasing fuel efficiency.
  • Advanced safety systems will require further sensor and electronics development to provide smarter airbag deployment, maintain vehicle stability, and prevent collisions.

Increases in LED brightness will be steady and, in some cases, dramatic. Improvements in LED efficiency for Lumileds' (www.lumileds.com) Luxeon InGaN LED chips will boost output this year:

  • From 32 to 60+ lumens/W for green;
  • From 8 to 14 lumens/W for blue;
  • From 50 to 58 lumens/W for the AlInGaP red/orange devices.

Improvements in lumens/package will improve the 1-cm2 Luxeon package:

  • From 25 to 100 lumens for green;
  • From 5 to 20 lumens for blue;
  • From 18 to almost 50 lumens for white.

A development from C-MAC (www.cmac.com) may greatly simplify applications requiring the very highest precision afforded by oven-controlled crystal oscillators (OCXOs). C-MAC plans to deliver a self-calibrating OCXO that will compensate for aging effects that normally require recalibration of the oscillator after it's installed in the customer's system.

LCDs should enjoy continued boosts in viewing angle, response time, and color quality, as well as lower cost, making them more competitive with CRTs. Larger TFT-LCD monitors also are coming. Units like Samsung's (www.samsung.com) 40-in. XGA widescreen LCD TV panel are going into production as early as this year, creating new competition for plasma display panels.

White LEDs will also achieve greater consistency of color and quality of color rendering. Expect greater consistency of color temperature from part to part and for individual parts over the range of viewing angles. Meanwhile, color rendering, now in the low 70s for good LEDs, will improve by better phosphors. Better color rendering will enable LED-based lamps to compete with incandescents in lighting applications. Incandescents set the standard for color rendering with a rating of 100.

In the motor area, fractional-hp brushless dc motors should continue to come down in cost, making them usable in more applications where their longer life, higher speed, and lower noise makes them candidates to replace traditional brushed motors. Moreover, the application of these motors should become easier as motor manufacturers continue to integrate controllers within the motors, reducing problems associated with EMC.

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