Updates in silicon and electronics technology.

Ed.: This is a special feature courtesy of Binghamton University.

Next-gen chips will be powered from below. As transistors continue to be made thinner, the interconnects that supply them with current must be packed closer, which increases resistance and power. In processors, both signals and power reach the silicon from above. Arm researchers have developed a technology that separates those functions, saving power and making more room for signal routes. The signals travel along the copper traces of a PCB into a package that holds the SoC, through the solder balls that connect the chip to the package, and then via on-chip interconnects to the transistors. These interconnects are formed in layers called a stack. It can take a 10- to 20-layer stack to deliver power and data to the billions of transistors on today’s chips. (IEEC file #12450, IEEE Spectrum, 9/2/21)


Using liquid metal to turn motion into electricity, even underwater. North Carolina State University researchers have created a soft, stretchable device that converts movement into electricity and works in dry and wet environments. The heart of this energy harvester is a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium. The alloy is encased in a hydrogel with the water containing dissolved salts (ions). The ions assemble at the surface of the metal, which induces a charge in the metal. Increasing the area of the metal provides more surface to attract a charge. This generates electricity, which is captured by a wire attached to the device. Researchers found that deforming the device by only a few millimeters generates a power density of approximately 0.5 mW/m-2, comparable to popular classes of energy harvesting technologies. (IEEC file #12449, Science Daily, 8/28/21)

To continue reading, please log in or register using the link in the upper right corner of the page.

Read more ...

Stop designing products guaranteed to fail EMC testing.

Au: This article emphasizes the need to concentrate on design of transmission lines, or the “spaces,” instead of the “wires.” The industry focus has been on the movement of charges in the wires, which only occurs because the electric fields are moving. The energy is carried by the fields, not the displacement current. My apologies to the EM physicists for oversimplifying these concepts, but this approach will increase the chances of success for most designs.

Engineering teams worldwide are facing increasingly difficult challenges to design electronic products and achieve good signal integrity and compliance. However, the status quo is  to expect the design to fail EMC testing not once, but three, four, or as many as five times. Each time the design is sent to be retested, there is little confidence in success. This cycle is expensive in both the time it takes to redesign the product and the cost of expediting fabricating the new PCB and assembly. Add this to the cost of retesting the product, and the numbers add up very quickly. This expense and delay in product certification are not in the budget or the schedule. The cost not only directly affects the bottom line of the electronic supply company, but also affects the customers waiting for the product. Instead of designing the next big thing, teams are trying to fix the current one. As a result, billions of dollars are lost each year designing products that are expected to fail.

What is wrong here? The billion-dollar mistake.

The billion-dollar mistake is rooted in the misunderstanding of the nature of electronic energy. One drawing is to blame.

To continue reading, please log in or register using the link in the upper right corner of the page.

Read more ...

From proper grounding to material selection, common best practices for optimal RF results.

In our everyday lives, we are more connected than ever.

Your car keys wirelessly unlock your car when you get near it. Your phone connects to Air Pods while you listen to Spotify at the gym or stream the latest hit TV show. The smart home device in your living room streams podcasts, answers questions, and writes your shopping list on voice-activated command. All these daily activities have one thing in common: radio signals. Whether it be from device-to-device or through Wifi, the need for proper radio frequency (RF) sensitive circuits is ever-increasing.

Radio frequency design has a myriad of applications in the field. Some use cases are more critical, such as military or medical use, while others are for general public consumption. Regardless, in all cases it is imperative the design functions as promised without incident. Doing so will ensure a successful and reliable end-product that breeds a lasting impression with the consumer.

To continue reading, please log in or register using the link in the upper right corner of the page.

Read more ...

Does sustained ISO 9001 and Lean Six Sigma deliver success?

Sustaining quality management systems and continuous improvement strategies is critical for retaining a competitive advantage in the printed circuit board industry. Implementing and sustaining both ISO 9001 and Lean Six Sigma provides quality improvements, enhances organizational performance, creates efficiencies, increases market share, improves financial performance, and reduces product reliability risk. This quantitative correlational study evaluates critical success factors for implementing and sustaining ISO 9001 and Lean Six Sigma. Survey data were collected from the North American printed circuit board (PCB) industry. Canonical correlations were used for data analysis. A statistical correlation was found between critical success factors for implementing and sustaining ISO 9001 and Lean Six Sigma. Three canonical variates were extracted and interpreted.

Quality has become a key process indicator for manufacturing and service companies. Quality is a strategic priority for all modern businesses.1 Improving and sustaining quality is a critical organizational strategy to retain customers in today’s globally competitive environment. Quality management is used to proactively find solutions to current and future cost and risk problems.

To continue reading, please log in or register using the link in the upper right corner of the page.