Power Engineering Catchup: Here’s What Would Have Been Presented at APEC
APEC was canceled less than a week before the event. What did we miss? Is there still a way for us to stay up to date on power electronic trends?
Many industry conferences are no longer moving forward because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While necessary, these cancelations affect companies that depend on such gatherings to network with new and existing clients, while also showing off their latest developments.
In some cases, cancelations happen abruptly. For example, New Orleans' Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) got canceled less than a week before the event—scheduled from March 15 to 19, 2020. Organizers announced this cancelation after health officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Louisiana.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, APEC 2020 was canceled a week before the conference commenced. Image used courtesy of APEC
The coronavirus has also impacted other global electronics companies. For example, major companies slotted to present at Germany's embedded world conference decided not to have a presence there this year.
Some conference attendees who planned to go to APEC have adapted by creating "digital booths" and similar outlets that let people check out the latest advancements without leaving home. Here are ten examples of companies virtually showcasing products that would have been presented at APEC.
TI has broken down its APEC offerings into several sections. You can also watch an assortment of demo videos.
Among the offerings intended for introduction at the conference was a 900-volt gallium nitride (GaN)-based bidirectional AC-DC grid converter. The company says this new model is an update to its LMG3410R050 version. What makes this product stand out, though, is that it offers three times the power density of silicon and 1.5 times the power density of silicon carbide.
Simplified block diagram of LMG341xR050. Image used courtesy of Texas Instruments
The brand also revealed the TPS546D24A, which is a non-isolated DC-DC converter. Arguably one of the most impressive things about it is its size. Although the synchronous buck converter measures only 7 millimeters by 5 millimeters, it offers a 40 A current output. You can also connect up to four of these converters to achieve 160 A from a single output.
Littelfuse intended to have six booths at APEC, each one focusing on a different product group. One of the products on display at its digital conference footprint is the IX4351NE SiC MOSFET gate driver. According to the virtual kiosk on driver ICs and solid-state relays, it offers an operating voltage range of -10 V to +25 V and provides separate 9 A peak source and sink outputs.
Block diagram of the IX4351NE SiC MOSFET gate driver. Image used courtesy of Littelfuse
In another virtual kiosk for stacks, subsystems, and assemblies, Littelfuse also called attention to its fully customizable insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) stacks. They feature a pre-loaded pressure-contact isolated clamping system and depend on direct water cooling to aid in heat dissipation.
This brand chose to display a wide assortment of products for its virtual APEC representation, ranging from an operational amplifier that's highly tolerant of EMI to its Nano Pulse Control buck converters.
ROHM says the star of the show, though, is its 4th-generation SiC MOSFETs. These updated devices are said to have an even lower on-resistance, reduced switching losses, and minimal reverse recovery of the body diode. It also enables operation at a VGS of 15 V.
4th-generation SiC MOSFETs. Image used courtesy of ROHM Semiconductor
The products available with the Nano Pulse Control functionality are said to convert voltages from as high as 60 V down to 0.8 V without requiring intermediate step-downs. The company claims to achieve this with a minimum pulse width of 20 nanoseconds.
ROHM also offers demos on SiC power modules, nano energy in buck converters, industrial DC-DC converters. For the demo on the "SiC race track," ROHM uses the electromagnetic field from a large inductor coil, created by the electric power from a 500-volt capacitor. The current reaches a maximum of 300 A during the power transfer, and ROHM used a full silicon carbide power module through an N-channel MOSFET to control switching.
The virtual booth provided by Power Integrations features lots of media, including the technical breakdowns from eight experts scheduled to speak at APEC 2020. You can also download design specifications for products ranging from LED drivers to buck converters.
The PowiGaN collection is one of the new lines the company planned to show attendees at APEC 2020. It includes GaN switches that replace the traditional silicon transistors found on the primary side of the brand's integrated offline flyback switcher ICs.
PowiGaN is based on Power Integrations' home-grown GaN technology. Image used courtesy of Power Integrations
Power Integrations explains that PowiGaN integrated circuits give up to 95% efficiency across the full load range and are capable of up to 100 W with enclosed adapters—no heatsink required. Also, the products bearing the PowiGaN brand are smaller and lighter than silicone alternatives.
Power Integrations also highlights its BridgeSwitch product line of integrated half-bridges. They are high-voltage, self-powered half-bridge motor drivers. These products also have internal fault protections, including a cycle-by-cycle current limit for both of the fast-reverse or fast-recovery epitaxial diode field-effect transistors (FREDFETs). Moreover, there is a two-level thermal overload feature on BridgeSwitch models.
For more information on Power Integrations' BridgeSwitch motor drivers, check out Robert Keim's component-centric technical brief on the family.
Technical professionals who deal with power management in the automotive sector have new and pressing concerns to address due to the availability of electric vehicles. For example, IATF 16949:2016 is a quality management system standard related to automotive parts, and the components that meet this standard must withstand heat, corrosion, and more.
Many of the companies that were on board to appear at APEC 2020 remain mindful of the automotive sector's unique power requirements. Some planned to reveal their innovations at this year's event. One such company was Analog Devices.
Application circuit of LT8365, a boost converter for automotive LiDAR. Image used courtesy of Analog Devices
For example, it announced its 4-switch buck-boost converters for the USB Type-C chargers used in electric vehicles. The company intended to have an interactive demo at APEC 2020, whereby different high-powered chargers would give more power to attendees' devices at different levels.
The company also described its LTC33XX low-voltage collection of buck converters. They offer output currents of up to 12.5 A and work well for the optical and automotive sectors.
The innovations ST Microelectronics wanted to unveil at APEC 2020 included intelligent lighting solutions, a solution for data center power distribution, and a family of offline power converters. Moreover, the brand was going to showcase its STPOWER collection of transistors. It includes power MOSFETs, IGBTs, and power bipolar transistors.
Also, customers who choose the silicon carbide MOSFETs from this product line get the added advantage of the industry's highest temperature rating of 200°C.
The company spotlighted its STNRG011 digital combo converter, too.
Block diagram of STNRG011. Image used courtesy of ST Microelectronics
This instrument combines a power factor corrector (PFC) controller and a resonant mode LLC converter. It has embedded drivers, and ST planned to demonstrate how to use this converter within a fully functional digital power supply. Using this converter also avails you of an option to immediately change parameters as required using a graphical user interface (GUI).
Microchip was another APEC exhibitor with plans of giving attendees glimpses into the latest automotive power options, among other products. For example, one of the products on the conference agenda was the dsPIC33EP DSC 1,600 W DC-DC automotive bus balancer.
The company explained that new cars must have bidirectional DC-DC converters that support two power domains within the automobiles. The bus balancer keeps the two voltage rails stable while facilitating on-demand power transfer.
Family block diagram of dsPIC33EPXXXGS70X/80X. Image used courtesy of Microchip
Plug-and-play IGBT gate driver boards were also some of the products designated for the APEC 2020 conference. Microchips says they offer up to 30 A of peak drive current.
Maxim Integrated's offerings focus primarily on automotive and analog solutions. Those in the latter category encompass the nanoPower technology collection, featuring design possibilities for IoT devices. The company clarified that quiescent current is the most significant indicator of standby power consumption. However, nanoPower products consume less than a microamp of quiescent current, and offer package sizes up to 50% smaller than other options.
The company also prepared to tell APEC conference attendees about its new products related to automotive power management. One new power-related product was the MAX20087, a camera protector IC.
The MAX20087 is the industry's only ASIL-grade camera protector (complying with ASIL B through ASIL D) with integrated I2C-based diagnostics. While a single MAX20087 is capable of supporting four cameras, two in parallel on the same bus can support eight cameras. The device protects each output individually from short-to-battery, short-to-ground, and overcurrent conditions. An integrated 8-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) monitors current, voltage, and supply readings as required for ASIL compliance.
The showcases ON Semiconductor planned for APEC 2020 spanned from power solutions for the cloud computing sector to components compatible with wide bandgap power designs. Additionally, the company wanted to show attendees a solution for the industrial power and motion sector that included a 48-volt system with bus protection diagnostics and digital control.
Diagram of ON Semiconductor's Intelligent Power Modules (IPMs). Image used courtesy of ON Semiconductor
High-density power solutions were other focal points for ON Semiconductor. The company wanted to have several experts on hand to present that topic and others at APEC 2020. The brand intended to demonstrate efficient and small options for electronics like tablets and laptops, as well.
The CoolSiC MOSFET 650 V silicon carbide MOSFET discretes from Infineon were some of the products on tap for display at APEC this year. They provide the lowest losses and highest reliability in applications, including PFC circuits, DC-DC converters, and DC-AC inverters.
Also, Infineon has provided resources for designers to learn about the OptiMOS Power MOSFET source-down products, which the company also hoped people could discover for themselves while attending the conference. The brand will gradually bring a more extensive selection of these to the market over the next two years.
PQFN 3.3x3.3 source-down chips. Image used courtesy of Infineon
However, the products already available within this line offer a new design featuring the silicon turned upside down in the component. This approach means that the source potential connects to the printed circuit board (PCB) over the thermal pad instead of the drain potential. This design enables improved temperature management.
Peruse the Virtual Booths
This overview is a small sample of the exhibitors that had their latest products ready for debut at APEC 2020. Despite that event's cancelation, you can still get an idea of industry trends by checking out some of the virtual booths of the companies noted above as well as others not mentioned.
Based on some of the industry trends you see above, what do you foresee being the hot topics of APEC 2021? Share your ideas in the comments below.