The era of the MEMS switch may finally be here thanks to the research efforts of GE. Its MEMS chip, as small as 50 microns square, swathes as fast as 3 GHz and can handle up to 5-kiloWatts of power, making it a candidate for everything from industrial power control, to turning on light bulbs to switching antennas inside a smartphone.
MEMS Switch from GE claims fastest/highest Power Crown - [Link]
Smallest (2mm x 2.5mm), 8A, DC-DC Solution with Integrated MOSFETs in the Market
The MAX15108A high-efficiency, current-mode, synchronous step-down switching regulator with integrated power switches delivers up to 8A of output current. The regulator operates from 2.7V to 5.5V and provides an output voltage from 0.6V up to 95% of the input voltage, making the device ideal for distributed power systems, portable devices, and preregulation applications.
The IC utilizes a current-mode control architecture with a high gain transconductance error amplifier. The current-mode control architecture facilitates easy compensation design and ensures cycle-by-cycle current limit with fast response to line and load transients.
MAX15108A – High-Efficiency, 8A, Step-Down Switching Regulator - [Link]
A research team from National Taiwan University, National Taipei University of Technology and Chang Gung University have described how they developed a free-swimming remote-controlled bare die at the IEEE International Solid-State circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco. The 21.2 mm square die made by TSMC using a 0.35 µm process, is able to travel at 0.3 mm/s submerged in a liquid. A similar device was presented at the ISSCC in 2012, which used Lorentz forces for propulsion. This design however uses electrodes along the four edges of the chip to generate bubbles as a product of electrolysis. [via]
A Free-Swimming Chip - [Link]
In a paper published in Nature Communications researchers at IBM describe how they have built a silicon-based receiver chip incorporating GFETs or Graphene Field Effect Transistors (the purple structure in the photo) into the circuit. The multi-stage receiver integrated circuit consists of 3 graphene transistors, 4 inductors, 2 capacitors, and 2 resistors.
“This is the first time that someone has shown graphene devices and circuits to perform modern wireless communication functions comparable to silicon technology,”
said Supratik Guha, Director of Physical Sciences at IBM Research. In a test the team successfully used the graphene-based receiver to process a digital transmission on 4.3GHz. The binary sequence received was 01001001 01000010 01001101, which represents ASCII coding of the letters IBM.
IBM Chip uses Graphene FETs - [Link]
By Stephen Evanczuk
For circuits relying on lithium-ion cells, determining the amount of charge remaining in a cell requires specialized techniques that can complicate the design of energy-harvesting applications. Engineers can implement these techniques with MCUs and ADCs normally used in these applications, but at the cost of increased complexity. Instead, engineers can easily add this functionality to existing designs using dedicated “fuel-gauge” ICs available from manufacturers including Linear Technology, Maxim Integrated, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments.
Determining the state of charge (SOC) in lithium-ion batteries is essential yet challenging due to the great variability in capacity not only across different cells, but also in the same cell. As a Li-ion cell ages, it loses its ability to store charge. Consequently, even if fully charged, an older cell would deliver usable voltage for a shorter period of time than a newer cell. With any Li-ion cell, SOC varies greatly depending on the temperature and discharge rate, resulting in a unique family of curves for any particular cell (Figure 1).
Fuel-Gauge ICs Simplify Li-Ion Cell Charge Monitoring - [Link]
This video shows the detail process of making of a chip at Philips Factory.
Chip Manufacturing Process – Philips Factory - [Link]
The LT8614 is a 4A, 42V input capable synchronous step-down switching regulator. A unique Silent Switcher architecture reduces EMI/EMC emissions by more than 20dB, well below the CISPR 25 Class 5 limit. Even with switching frequencies in excess of 2MHz, synchronous rectification delivers efficiency as high as 96% while Burst Mode operation keeps quiescent current under 2.5μA in no-load standby conditions. Its 3.4V to 42V input voltage range makes it ideal for automotive and industrial applications.
LT8614 – 42V, 4A Synchronous Step-Down Silent Switcher with 2.5μA Quiescent Current - [Link]
The LTC4120 from Linear Technology is an all-in-one receiver chip for wirelessly charging battery-powered devices. It measures 3 x 3 mm and requires a pick-up coil at its input and a rechargeable battery at its output. A voltage is induced in the coil when it is in close proximity to the transmitter coil of a separate charging unit.
As well as the convenience of just placing your cell phone on a charging pad, this method is also ideal for hand-held devices that can’t use a conventional plug-in charger for reasons of hygiene or harsh/volatile atmospheres.
The battery charging functions allow for both constant current and constant voltage modes and a programmable float voltage level between 3.5 and 11 V accommodates a wide range of cell chemistries. An external resistor sets the charge current up to a maximum of 400 mA. It senses cell voltage and can initiate a low-voltage preconditioning phase if necessary. [via]
LTC4120 – Novel Contactless Battery Charger Chip - [Link]
A look into Fairchild Semiconductor’s integrated circuit manufacturing from an educational promotional film broadcast on television on October 11, 1967:
Fairchild Semiconductor presented its new products and technologies with an entrepreneurial style, and its early manufacturing and marketing techniques helped give Californias Santa Clara County a new name: Silicon Valley. It was one of the early forerunners of what would become a worldwide high-tech industry, as evidenced in this short promotional film.
Fairchild Semiconductor Briefing on Integrated Circuits - [Link]