Greetings from Virtual APEC

March 31, 2020
Despite the pandemic, parts of world's premier power conference are alive and well in cyberspace.

While the cancellation of this year's Applied Power Electronics Conference  (APEC 2020) is a minor inconvenience in comparison to what the folks on the front lines of the war against COVID-19 face each day, it’s been a difficult setback for the power electronics community. Besides losing the opportunity to learn about the latest developments in what has become one of the fastest moving segments of the electronics industry, it means waiting another year to catch up with our diverse, yet closely knit community.

So, even though we won't be able to sip Hurricanes on Bourbon Street with our colleagues, we will be able to hop into cyberspace and visit the “Virtual APEC,” which was created by the conference organizers and a small, but growing number, of electronics companies.

A Work in Progress

At present, most of the content from the actual conference sessions will be accessible through a special web portal application called "EventScribe," and only available to people who registered (and paid) to attend the event. I'm looking into whether at least some of that content could be made available to a wider audience.

However, in the meantime, Power Integrations, Texas InstrumentsInfineon, and Ga­­N Systems are inviting everyone to come see what they had intended to share at APEC at their "virtual exhibit environments" or more conventional websites. I expect several more companies will be bringing their exhibits on line over the next couple of weeks and will try to update this story as that happens.

So let's put on some comfortable cyber-shoes and step out onto the exhibit floor for an alphabetically ordered tour, beginning with GaN Systems. While the company’s APEC presence is rather simple, it does an effective job of presenting how the high efficiencies and high operating frequencies of GaN devices are changing expectations for what's possible for power supplies, motor drivers, and charging systems used in  consumer electronicsindustrial, and automotive applications.

Across the hall, Infineon also has a simple HTML-format "exhibit" that offers a rich selection of informative power-related content. Presented under the theme of "Green Power - Achieving More, Consuming Less," the booth's primary focus is on the company’s wide-bandgap power semiconductor technologies that include silicon-carbide (SiC), IGBT, and gallium-nitride (GaN) devices, and how they’re used in various applications such as motor drives.

From a distance, Power Integrations' cyber-booth is intriguing, and it gets even more so as we approach closer. At its "entrance"  you have the option of visiting virtual "kiosks" that provide overviews of the company’s SiC-based automotive solutions, ultra-wide input range devices for power-conversion apps, BLDC motor drivers, and GaN-based solutions for charging apps.

You can also watch several video presentations on everything from silicon-carbide IGBTs for automotive applications to high-voltage BridgeSwitch motor-driver ICs suitable for single- and multi-phase inverter designs. Most of them are quite informative, although some of them make you wade through a bit of marketing patter to get to the technical details. Check out this video on the SiC IGBTs:


Fig. 3: Power Integrations

A few booths down, Texas Instruments has done an equally impressive job with its cyber-exhibit, having packed it with informative videos and other content about its latest products and applications. Just below the site's welcome message are six videos that highlight TI products and their applications. You can learn, for example, how to create a digitally controlled stackable converter, review the basics of using a 900-V GaN switch/integrated driver for high-power applications, or build a wireless battery-management system for use in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Check out this video:

Further down the page, their "Automotive Design" area provides information on topics ranging from electrical isolation in 48-V HEV/EV systems to EMI mitigation in automotive converters. The "Industrial Design" section covers topics that include capacitive isolation in ac motor drives and the fundamentals of EMI control.

That's it for now, but I'd like to keep this listing updated so please contact me with details if you know of any other APEC exhibitors who have migrated to cyberspace. I hope you enjoyed this short tour of the APEC-that-might-have-been and look forward to seeing many of you next year in Phoenix, Ariz.

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