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High-speed Contactless Connectors Aim to Solve Connector-related Failures

October 08, 2021 by Jake Hertz

Aiming to make the connectors have fewer wires, a collaboration between ST and Rosenberger has resulted in a novel, high-speed, contactless connector technology.

In many electrical systems, especially electromechanical or industrial systems, a major source of failure tends to be cabling and connectors. Cables and connectors are often under significant mechanical stress, which causes them to weaken or break, eventually causing machine failures and downtimes. 

Unfortunately, wiring is necessary for many types of board-to-board communication, making these types of failure all but unavoidable. Working to alleviate these issues, STMicroelectronics (ST) has recently partnered up with Rosenberger, an industry-leading manufacturer of impedance-controlled and optical-connectivity solutions, to try to solve connector issues. 

 

ST's ST60A2G0 which Rosenberger is leveraging for its contactless connectors.

ST's ST60A2G0 which Rosenberger is leveraging for its contactless connectors. Image used courtesy of STMicroelectronics

 

This week, they've announced that their partnership has resulted in a novel high-speed contactless connector, one which they hope can solve connector-related failures in electromechanical applications. 

 

A Contactless Connector: RoProxCon 

The new product, Rosenberger’s RoxProxCon, is a new contactless connector that works on 60 GHz RF technology. 

 

he RoxProxCon 60 GHz wireless connector.

The RoxProxCon 60 GHz wireless connector. Image used courtesy of Rosenberger

 

Utilizing a 60 GHz carrier frequency (i.e., the mmWave range), the RoxProxCon can achieve high data rates without the need for complicated modulation schemes and the overheads that come with it. 

 

The protocols that RoxProxCon works with.

The protocols that RoxProxCon works with. Image used courtesy of Rosenberger

 

The connector supports protocols such as EtherNetIP, PROFINET, and EtherCat while operating in real-time full-duplex, achieving data rates of up to 6 Gbps, and working at a distance up to 40 mm and angular deviations up to 45 degrees. It also offers a high degree of immunity to interference such as movement, vibration, dust, or other contaminants. 

In Rosenberger's opinion, the major benefits of the RoxProxCon when compared to a wired connection are its reliability and low maintenance, thanks to minimal mechanical wear and tear. The company believes that its new wireless connector can find itself useful in many applications, including smart factories, medical devices, connected devices, and more.

Now that the connector has been established let's see what ST brought to this device in their collaboration. 

 

ST's Solution: the ST60A2G0 

To achieve these high data rates in the 60 GHz range, the RoxProxCon leverages ST’s ST60A2G0 RF transceiver. 

 

Block diagram for the ST60A2G0.

Block diagram for the ST60A2G0. Image used courtesy of STMicroelectronics [downloadable product brief]

 

ST's ST60A2G0 is an RF transceiver, which operates in the 60 GHz V-band to allow for power-efficient and high data rate short-range wireless communications. At best, the transceiver can achieve transfer speeds up to 6.25 Gbps, transmit (TX) mode power consumption of 44 mW, and typical latency of ~7ns. 

Furthermore, the transceiver comes in a minimal form factor of 2.2 mm x 2.2 mm x 0.8 mm, making it a perfect solution for space-constrained applications like the RoxProxCon. 

 

The Future is Contactless

Using ST's existing technology, Rosenberg was able to draw on its expertise in antenna design and interconnect to create its RoxProxCon. As a much cheaper alternative to optical interconnects, the RoxProxCon is poised to offer tremendous reliability advantages for industrial and electromechanical applications. As the world develops new ways of removing wires, devices like STs can help push connectors to the next level.