A Significant Achievement in Solid-State Digital Control of ElectricityApril 10, 2020 by Luke James
Engineers at Amber Solutions have achieved the solid-state control of electricity with impressive switch technology IP which the company has now patented.
According Amber’s CEO, who is understandably enthusiastic about the company’s achievement and labels it a “breakthrough”, the solid-state control of electricity “changes the rules of the game for everything” due to the fact that it can be applied to a wide range of electronics applications.
Solid-state control involves the control of electrical loads without the need for moving parts, making use of solid-state relays as semiconductor equivalents of the electromechanical relay.
Amber says that because of its achievement, solid-state digital control will be possible in every device and appliance, and this could see the introduction IoT functionality overnight in homes and businesses.
An Advanced Digital Power Management System
Amber’s engineers have achieved solid state control by creating a tiny solid-state device that can efficiently run power to highly sophisticated processors, microcontrollers, and RF devices direct from an AC main—a digital power management control system (DPMC).
The device, which measures in at 300mm x 15mm x 8mm, eliminates the need for electromechanical components like capacitors that increase the footprint and limit the reliability and functionality of electronics.
The device has been combined with Amber’s patented AC Switch technology and has integrated it into a range of demonstratable products, including smart dimmer switches, smart outlets, and retrofit circuit breakers.
A graphic depicting current power supply product sizes with current and future Amber Solutions products. Image used courtesy of Amber Solutions
Amber says that this device is capable of completely replacing electromechanical components and technologies which, in some applications, can cause issues ranging from region-specific SKUs to a simple lack of physical space. The company hopes that with further research, they will be able to put these components and more on a single silicon chip.
In the years gone by, engineers have explored solid-state electrification. However, this has been almost exclusively applied to circuit breakers. In contrast, Amber’s patented solution and the products it has been demonstrated on seem to represent the first solid-state power management solution that is able to integrate with any electrical infrastructure or electronic system.
The company hopes that its achievement in solid-state electrification will help pave the way for a future where every electronic circuit, supply, and appliance will be connected and able to communicate in real-time, making systems safer, cheaper, and more transparent.