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GaN based Power Devices Make Possible A New Paradigm in Power Conversion

March 25, 2009 8:30 am | by Michael A. Briere, Executive Scientific Consultant, ACOO Enterprises LLC, under contract to International Rectifier Corp. | Articles | Comments

From planar HEXFETs to TrenchFETs and superjunction FETs, silicon power MOSFETs have continued to evolve for the last 30 years to satisfactorily serve numerous markets. In fact, during that period, there have been some two orders of magnitude improvement in performance. However, this silicon power device is rapidly approaching maturity

Design Talk: Digital & Analog

March 25, 2009 7:16 am | Articles | Comments

Typically, industries use standards to improve product quality and enable component sharing across projects. In practice, such standards achieve wide acceptance since the synergistic effects provide significant benefits to the user community. The hardware and software industry is full of such standards, but there is an exception: the deeply embedded microcontroller market

Sensor Zone: April 2009

March 24, 2009 1:25 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

For the last half-century, sensors based on the Hall effect have provided a low-cost, solid-state option for sensing any object that incorporates a magnetic field. Hall effect sensors are based on the discovery by Dr. Edwin H. Hall in 1879. He found that a thin conductive material, placed in a magnetic field, formed a difference in potential (voltage) at the opposite edges that was

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World’s Cheapest Car Riles Environmental Groups

March 24, 2009 12:27 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Tata Motors has unveiled the world’s cheapest car, with potential for a vast standard of living increase. And Greenpeace doesn’t like it. The same organization that supported a ban on chlorine in drinking water feels that the mass proliferation of cheap automobiles is a bad thing. Despite its eco-friendly 47 MPG rating, the Tata Nano is seen as a threat to the environment. Why? Because lots of people want to buy them.

Two Paths Lead to FIR Filters

March 23, 2009 11:07 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Because finite impulse response (FIR) filters use a mathematical algorithm to process information, engineers rely on them when an analog filter just won't do. “FIR filters appeal to people who don't want to become filter designers”, explained Grant Griffin, President, Iowegian International. "They just want to use a filter to solve a problem

Brainstorm: Do-It-Yourself-Power

March 20, 2009 1:10 pm | by Edited by Jason Lomberg | Articles | Comments

Moving forward, what technology will dominate energy harvesting?

New government brochure explains climate science

March 19, 2009 4:43 am | by Alix Paultre | Blogs | Comments

Day after day, reports of the dangers of climate and climate change circulate in the news, often filled with confusing data and debate. In an effort to improve understanding of climate science, a group of government agencies has combined efforts to produce "Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science."

Electrode Breakthrough Enables Rapid Battery Recharge

March 12, 2009 4:48 am | Product Releases | Comments

A lithium-ion battery electrode described this week in the journal Nature can deliver electricity several times faster than other such batteries. It could be particularly useful where rapid power bursts are needed, such as for laser weapons or hybrid race cars. Test batteries based on the new electrode--developed by Gerbrand Ceder, a professor of materials science at MIT--can be discharged in 10 seconds.

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Global Warming: Science vs. Activism

March 11, 2009 2:03 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In 2007, Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change.” In his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Gore screeched, “The scientists are virtually screaming from the rooftops now. The debate is over! There’s no longer any debate in the scientific community about this.”

Industry Focus: Interaction in Consumer Devices

March 10, 2009 10:34 am | by Christopher Keuling, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

It’s a fact that consumers want end products that give them the most user interaction. Two of the most popular examples on the market are Apple’s iPhone and Nintendo’s Wii. These end products serve very different purposes to their desired consumers, but share electronic advances that make these products, amongst others, an interactive experience for the user. In this month's Industry Focus, we talked to six different companies

ASU Develops World’s First Flexible Touchscreen Display

March 9, 2009 9:36 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Arizona State University’s Flexible Display Center (FDC) recently unveiled the world’s first flexible touchscreen display. Developed in conjunction with E Ink Corporation and DuPont Teijin Films, the active matrix display is capable of real-time user input, and can send and receive information. The applications for such a device, particularly in the military sector, are endless

Hundreds rally for legislation on climate change

March 2, 2009 11:08 am | Blogs | Comments

Hundreds of demonstrators are urging Congress to pass legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, and they're using the Capitol power plant as a symbol of the problem. Despite attempts by lawmakers to clean up the power plant in southeast Washington, it still burns coal and accounts for a third of the legislative branch's greenhouse gas emissions. Monday's rally on Capitol Hill was being followed by a march to the power plant, where some demonstrators planned to block entrances and get arrested.

Enclosure Design: Integrating Aesthetics and Functionality

February 20, 2009 5:22 am | by Dan Farrar, Polycase | Articles | Comments

Enclosure manufacturers strive to anticipate the demands of the electronics marketplace with state-of-the-art enclosure designs. The challenge is for designers to develop products with unique features that meet customers’ needs, yet still appeal to the broadest market possible. With this in mind, manufacturers endeavor to engineer enclosures with features, options and accessories that provide a breadth of solutions specific to customers’ applications.

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Sensor Zone: March 2009

February 19, 2009 10:37 am | by Tony Beswick, Russ Petrucci and Phil Slater, Morgan Technical Ceramics | Articles | Comments

Piezoelectric ceramic components composed of Lead Zirconate Titanates (PZT) have enabled many recent technological innovations in the automobile industry.  PZT components can be found throughout many state-of-the-art vehicles, enhancing safety, performance, energy-efficiency and comfort. For example, you will find PZT sensors under the hood detecting engine knocking, PZT transducers in the gas tank measuring the fuel level, PZT actuators operating valves

Design Talk: Mechatronics

February 19, 2009 8:04 am | Articles | Comments

More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. This growth has sparked renewed interest in developing more sophisticated assistive technologies to enable an oftentimes disabling environment. This growth presents semiconductor suppliers with an opportunity to enable this field

Electric Vehicles on Cell Phone Contracts

February 18, 2009 11:15 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place, wants to make electric cars viable. His solution? Spread battery-swapping stations throughout the world, using a fee structure similar to cell-phone contracts. According to Better Place’s site, “The batteries of a zero-emission vehicle need three things in place for optimum functionality: charging spots, battery switching stations, and software that automates the experience.” Their solution is a network of stations where depleted batteries can be swapped out for fresh ones.

Brainstorm: Environmental Issues

February 17, 2009 6:28 am | Articles | Comments

Which green technology has the most commercial potential?

Clean Coal and Nuclear Funding Cut from Stimulus

February 13, 2009 7:13 am | by Alix Paultre | Blogs | Comments

This "compromise" is an example of the misguided cuts that have been made in the stimulus package in the name of savings. "Clean Coal" and Nuclear power are among the best alternatives to oil we have, and to cut funding for these important technologies is shortsighted. "Clean Coal" and Nuclear power are among the best alternatives to oil we have, and to cut funding for these important technologies is

6LoWPAN Goes Where ZigBee Can't

February 12, 2009 8:25 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Many “standard” and proprietary protocols use the media-access controller (MAC) and the physical circuits (PHY) associated with IEEE 802.15.4 radios. Those protocols use their own arrangements of bits and bytes to transfer information between nodes, but none of them use the Internet Protocol (IP). So they cannot directly communicate with Internet-based devices and Web servers/browsers.

Achieving High Efficiency with Power Switches

February 12, 2009 8:18 am | by Gwan-Bon Koo, Senior Engineer, Fairchild Semiconductor | Articles | Comments

In general, high frequency operation allows the use of small-sized passive components in switch mode power supplies (SMPS), while it causes switching losses to increase in a hard switching mode. To reduce switching losses at high switching frequencies, many soft switching techniques have been developed. Among them, load resonant techniques and zero voltage transition techniques are widely used.

Next Stop, the Twilight Zone

February 7, 2009 9:22 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Obama’s position on tailpipe emissions presents a strange paradox: traditional supporters of states’ rights are clamoring for one national standard, while federalists want the states to decide. It seems that we’ve entered bizarro world. But it goes deeper. Allowing states to set their own emissions standards is a thinly-disguised attempt to impose higher national standards through backdoor means.

Brainstorm: Technology Obsolescence

February 5, 2009 3:28 am | by Edited by Jason Lomberg | Articles | Comments

What technology will become obsolete in the near future?

Interview With CEO of Dialog Semiconductor

February 3, 2009 5:53 am | Articles | Comments

Dialog Semiconductor has had a something of a rollercoaster ride in recent times. Once part of the European semiconductor industry’s first order, it suffered many years of poor management and complacency that left it foundering. With the appointment of Jalal Bagherli, the firm is finally back on its feet. He has put together a ‘redeem team’ of executives to aid him in recapturing the glories of the past. ECN’s Mike Green gets some insight on how he is going about it.

The Dangers of Exporting E-waste

January 30, 2009 11:27 am | by by Ken Manchen, Newark & Premier Farnell | Blogs | Comments

As readers of ECN well know, Americans are purchasing new and improved electronic products faster than ever—and thereby creating a record amount of electronic waste. What you may not know is that 50% of the e-waste generated in the European Union and North America is now exported to developing countries such as India, China and Africa.

State vs. Federal Emissions Standards

January 27, 2009 10:39 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

President Obama has ordered the EPA to “review” its denial of California’s request for exemption to federal emissions standards. On Monday, January 26th, Obama gave a press conference relating to, “Jobs, Energy Independence, and Climate Change.” Among other things, he spoke about America’s dependence on foreign oil, the proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, and the aforementioned EPA denial.

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