The Top 101 Components Take Center Stage

May 21, 2009
WWhen designers create new devices, they need info about the latest electronic components to hit the market. One of the ways to gather this information is via Products of the Week. This e-newsletter is sent to more than 60,000 subscribers ea

WWhen designers create new devices, they need info about the latest electronic components to hit the market. One of the ways to gather this information is via Products of the Week.

This e-newsletter is sent to more than 60,000 subscribers each Monday and covers innovative new products and technologies in the semiconductor, components and assemblies, boards and modules, and design, assembly, and test sectors, with direct links to the manufacturers’ datasheets or product information. All of the products that appear in it are carefully selected by the Electronic Design editorial staff.

The products in the Components & Assemblies section of the newsletter comprise the workhorse devices of electronic designs, such as LEDs, pushbutton switches, connectors, resistors, motors, and pressure sensors. These releases are by far the most diverse in the industry and are indispensible to designers. We compiled a list of the components in our newsletters that generated the most interest, via clicks on their links, for approximately the past 12 months). You can find the complete list of 101 products here. Also, check out the top 10 Interconnects (Table 1), Power Sources (Table 2), Displays & Indicators (Table 3), Passive Components (Table 4), and Sensors & Transducers (Table 5).

For now, we’ll turn the spotlight on the top 10 overall.

POWER TO THE (DESIGNER) PEOPLE The top two spots on the list are products that fit into a category we call Power Sources. Although both products fit the bill, they couldn’t be more different.

The number one product on the list is a 30-kW ac-dc power supply from Pioneer Magnetics. The PM37223-10P PFC is a liquid-cooled rack-mount supply that supplies 360 V at 30 kW (Fig. 1). It fits within a 2U 19-in. rack configuration and is available in air-cooled versions and with a wide range of output voltages. The efficiency of the supply is greater than 92% at 80% of load. Input voltage ranges from 408 to 528 V ac with a power factor correction (PFC) of greater than 0.95 at full load.

Contrast this supply with the power source that took second honors, the 600-mA EP5368QI from Enpiron. This synchronous buck dc-dc converter targets low-power mobile designs (Fig. 2). It relies on a high level of integration that localizes high-frequency noise associated with switch-mode converters. The device also employs voltage-mode control to achieve high noise immunity and reliable load matching to current sub-90-nm semiconductor process technologies.

Measuring 3 by 3 by 1.1 mm in a quad flat no-lead (QFN) package with an integrated inductor, a complete design requires just two tiny multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs). The converter employs a 4-MHz switching frequency and achieves up to 94% efficiency. It delivers 600 mA of continuous output current over an industrial temperature range and 700 mA over the commercial temperature range. Pricing is $0.98 each/10,000.

IT’S COOL TO BE COOL One of the items on the top 10 list is somewhat of a surprise, since it comes from the Cooling Products category, which usually doesn’t garner many clicks. But the latest range of flat heat pipes from Gelmec UK seems to have struck a chord with designers. The new device promises fast removal of heat up to 310 W directly from the source and transfer to the chassis or an external heatsink (Fig. 3).

Housed in an aluminum package measuring 1.2 to 2.5 mm thick, the component can eliminate the fan, heatsink, and thermal pad in many applications. As you might guess, this translates into reductions in power consumption, noise output, product thickness, and cost. Typical applications include cooling LCD and plasma displays, LED lighting, CPUs, memory components, and hard-disk drives.

DISPLAYS & INDICATORS GET THE PICTURE The Displays and Indicators category took four of the top 10 spots, with two displays and two indicators, better known as LEDs. This isn’t surprising. On the one hand, electronic displays appear almost everywhere, and the technologies behind them are constantly evolving. On the other hand, LEDs are probably the hottest devices in the components area and today go well beyond their mundane “indicator” jobs into full-scale lighting applications that are part of the greening of America.

Engineers have a high interest in LEDs simply because there are so many innovative ways to use them. Take our fourth place finisher, the Ostar headlamp LED from Osram Opto Semiconductors. Employing an integral shutter, this LED unit promises to simplify automotive headlamp optical systems by emitting a highly efficient and clearly defined light beam without the need for external shutters (Fig. 4).

The LED is available in one-, two-, three-, four-, or five-chip arrays, allowing designers to create different illumination patterns for virtually any headlamp design. A glass cover bonded to the frame protects the chips and helps prevent scatter losses. With a 12-W rating, the headlamp produces between 125 lumens at 700 mA (one chip) and 1000 lumens at 1 A (five chips). Additionally, with a street-legal color temperature of 6000 Kelvin, the LEDs emit light nearly identical to natural daylight. As an additional bonus, the headlamp specifies a lifespan of 10,000 to 20,000 hours.

In fifth is an RGB LED, the ASMT-MT00 (Fig. 5). It is Avago Technologies’ first 3-W Moonstone red, green, and blue LED for solid-state architectural and commercial lighting applications. The component delivers 108 lumens and is independently controllable to enable color-changing and mixing capabilities. It employs three separate power LED chips and features a 120° viewing angle. Each chip accommodates a drive current of 350 mA, and the entire package can pre-mix red, green, and blue in the reflector cavity to produce a uniform white output. Price is $7.90 each/1000.

The OSD35GN827, an LCD from OSD Displays, took ninth place and piqued the interest of our readers, no doubt, because of its integrated touchscreen (Fig. 6). The display itself is a 3.5-in. diagonal transmissive QVGA TFT-LCD targeting low-cost consumer and industrial applications. A high-performance long-life white LED backlight gives the display an initial typical brightness of 240 cd/m2.

With the backlight on, the contrast ratio is 350:1. The module integrates LCD control functions using chip-onglass (COG) technology. The COG controller supports a 24-bit SYNC mode TTL interface that delivers up to 16.7 million colors. Pricing is $15 each/10,000.

Tenth on the list is an example one of the newer technologies in the display industry, the OLED. The AZOLED034A 3.4-in. and AZOLED043A 4.3-in. widescreen-format OLED displays from AZ Displays combine a bare OLED panel and an integrated video decoder board (Fig. 7). The decoder board lets users display content with plug-and-play ease via a composite video input, computer VGA input, or both. Both displays can display high-quality color graphics and fullmotion video without a backlight.

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MOTORING INTO THE TOP 10 You don’t see torque amplifiers very often, though they’re of high interest. The Bantam 500W from Copley Controls Corp., number six on our list, is used for torque control of brushless and brush motors and sports a profile of 3.8 square inches (Fig. 8). Available in two current ratings, the module mounts on a printed-circuit board (PCB) with solderless connectors. The amplifier accepts a standard ±10-V current command from an external controller, while other analog control inputs are available to set current limits and adjust balance.COLOR MY CONNECTOR WORLD Though interconnects were the most prolific category in the top 100, only one made it into the top 10, the C-SX-069 Pathfinder 75-O BNC connector from Cambridge Electronic Industries Ltd. for HDTV-broadcast applications (Fig. 9). Its popularity with readers may be due to the fact that the connector integrates a unique light-pipe feature that eases port identification.

The construction and insulator material provide the necessary signal characteristics, while its light-pipe capability transmits light, typically from a PCB-mount LED, from the back of the connector to the front. Using different colors, the function and status of each port are clearly visible. Adding self-monitoring circuitry makes it possible to also indicate failures. The right-angle BNC connector is 4 mm tall and fully complies with RoHS and 3G SDI.

SENSORS CATCH COLD Landing in eighth on our list is the first in-flight ice sensor made entirely of plastic, the Model 9732-UAV from New Avionics. This ice-detecting transducer probe reportedly solves the problem of conductive metallic interference with mission-critical radio antennas on unmanned aerial vehicles, as the sensor is transparent to radio frequencies (Fig. 10). Its body consists of Delrin and Acrylic plastics. The only metal in the sensor assembly is in the wires that connect it to a host system. The component installs virtually anywhere on an aircraft fuselage, at any angle of attack, raked forward or aft, and with any orientation of the sensor air gap. The only requirement is that the air gap positions beyond the airflow boundary layer. The sensor measures 1.5 in. long and 0.25 in. in diameter, weighs less than 10 g, and features what may be the industry’s most sensitive ice detection threshold of 0.001 in. of ice or better.

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