Schaumburg, IL —Omron Electronics introduced two products that have design features measured in microns. A micro-machined relay (MMR) and a backlight for LCD displays, which the company says reduce energy consumption and space requirements.
Michael O'Brien, product manager for signal relays and the MMR, says, "Although Omron uses micro-machined components in many areas, especially biochemical sensors for blood pressure and temperature, the MMR is a new application. The company decided to develop this technology for OEM customers."
The MMR measures 2.0×3.0×0.8 mm high in its preferred packaging. But rather than becoming just another MMR supplier, Omron engineers looked to develop a more energy-efficient actuating mechanism. While other MMRs use thermal actuation, Omron's operates electrostatically to save energy.
"This MMR has applications such as replacing diodes and their tuning circuit in cell phones," O'Brien says. "It would result in about a 50% space savings per circuit. There are three diodes in a cell phone."
The relay consists of glass substrate with fixed electrodes and contacts. Sandwiched between this and a glass cap is a silicon plate with a moveable electrode. Actuation occurs when a voltage is applied to the electrode at frequencies of up to 5 GHz. With an actuation time of 0.1 millisecond, the company anticipates markets in consumer products, electronic test, telecommunications, and automation.
In a different light. "Omron extended its know-how in making flat lenses for projection displays to the micron level, resulting in a high efficiency LCD backlight," says Rudy Cosler, new application product manager. The company got involved in backlights when a Japanese customer approached it about a design problem—a personal digital assistant (PDA) for a security application. The design required 24-hour operation, but its battery kept falling short, and the display wasn't bright enough. "We developed the B-MLA backlight and the customer decided to change to the new system," says Cosler.
He adds, "Omron makes lenses for 'in-focus' projectors used to display pictures over large distances. Company engineers have continually refined the manufacturing process for these lenses until they achieved the micron dimensions.
"The B-MLA backlight is injection molded using a CNC machined die with cylindrical micro-lenses concentrically arranged around the light source using a Vector Radiation Coupling™placement," says Cosler. "This allows us to design a backlight that controls the direction of light and increase light levels using less energy.
Conventional backlights use hemispherical lenses to split and deflect light over many different paths in a random manner. Because of this, they require up to three LED sources to compensate for the uneven light distribution.
Cosler notes, "By controlling the light path, the B-MLA delivers more light from a single LED than the multiple LEDs on traditional backlights. We estimate increases in running time from four to 20 hours."
Omron makes the B-MLA back light in sizes up to 4 inches diagonal, which works for PDAs. Because the 1-mm thick B-MLA is made by an injection molding process, it can be customized for just about any shape.