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Articles from 2005 In June

Tin whiskers

Tin whiskers


Tin whiskers? – What, me worry?

As component suppliers send out their “we’re lead free now” announcements, there are a good number of skeptical engineers who believe the problem of going lead-free is not simply a matter of using tin without the lead. The skeptics claim that pure tin plating will grow whiskers given enough time and stress.

Over in aerospace and defense, engineers are particularly nervous, warning that lead-free airplanes could fall out of the sky and medical life-support equipment could fail. Those in consumer electronics shrug their shoulders – they don’t believe their products will be around long enough to suffer the consequences of tin whiskers breaking off and shorting out their products.

Some suppliers are testing nickel, gold, bismuth, and silver to replace lead as whisker mitigation. But that’s pricey, so most suppliers are simply saying, “We dropped the lead, used a new manufacturing procedure, tested our components, and they’re fine.”

How much confidence do you have in the clean components you’re designing in?

Motors and Batteries

Professional and do-it-yourselfer (DIYer) craftsmen can take advantage of the improved motor controls in proliferating portable power tools. Global Information Inc. reports that worldwide demand for power tools, in general, will increase nearly 6 percent annually to $27.3 billion by 2007. In some cases, professional-grade tools are being made available to homeowners who are tackling more complex projects. Among the improvements are lighter weight to reduce fatigue, smaller handles for both men and women with smaller hands, longer lasting batteries, and, of course, improved motors and controls. Four different products demonstrate the improvements.


Ryobi designed its newest cordless 0.375-inch drill/drivers in three voltage ranges: a 7.2V, Model HP472K; 9.6V, Model HP496K; and 12V, Model HP412KS. The combination of a more compact and efficient motor and stronger batteries provides more power and 20 percent more run time than previous models. The 12V drill/driver operates at a maximum of 550 rpm and has a variable speed reversible (VSR) trigger switch to provide a slow start and a fast finish. The 12V unit handles 365 screws per charge, which decreases to 275 screws per charge for the 9.6V, and 235 for the 7.2V models. For more information on Ryobi HP Series cordless drills, go to


Designed to be compact and lightweight, the DC330K uses a DEWALT-built motor that operates at speeds up to 3,000 rpm. To reduce vibration during cutting, the jigsaw has a counterbalance mechanism that dampens vibration and reduces fatigue. The total weight of the unit including the battery is 7.5 lbs.
For more information on the DEWALT cordless jigsaw, go to


Senco's DuraSpin DS205-14V uses a new 4,000 rpm motor to drive 1- to 2-inch screws to attach drywall to wood or steel. The tool includes a reverse feature to back out screws and dynamic braking to conserve brush wear. With the same horsepower, the new model provides 29 inch-lbs of torque (over 15 percent more than previous units). The new unit is powered by a 2,000-mA battery pack, a 17 percent increase in ampacity. Using an 18V battery pack, another unit, the DS275-18V screw gun is specifically designed for wood-to-wood applications, including screw lengths up to 3 inches. The unit uses a 3,100 rpm motor.
For more information on Senco DuraSpin DS205-14V, go to


Addressing the duplication and variation of batteries commonly found in portable tools, Ryobi's One+ System provides a common battery for a family of portable power tools. The newest products include a right-angle drill, trimmer, corner finish sander, caulk and adhesive gun, and an in-vehicle charger. The power for these portable tools and the existing line that includes an 18V drill/driver, two-speed hammer drill, three-speed hammer drill, a variety of saws, and a wet/dry vac comes from an 18V, 1,700 mA Ni-CD battery. Pricing for the 18V battery is $24.97. For more information on Ryobi One+ power tools, go to

New and Notable Product Design


Kontron Embedded Computer Module (ECM) ( The ECM contains a high-performance Intel® Pentium® M-based embedded PC engine for OEMs with application-specific requirements. A 200-pin connector makes the connection to the contents of the cast magnesium aluminum alloy module. Chosen for its ruggedness, metallic shielding for EMI and high density, the connector allows OEMs to develop custom I/O that meets the needs of a specific end product. Other important properties include durability, current carrying capability, and corrosion resistance. The docking connector on the ECM supports I/O that includes video, sound, serial ports, a parallel port, four USB 2.0 ports, 33 MHz PCI 2.0 bus, PS/2 keyboard, mouse, power input, and more.


TC Communications Inc. TC8520P ( This unit optimizes fiber-optic cable usage by multiplexing one 10/100M Ethernet, four telephone, and four serial data interface options (RS-232, RS-422, TTL, and dry contact) over single mode or multimode fiber. The one fiber, two-way communication option can double the capability of existing fiber. ST, FC, and SC fiber-optic connectors interface the ELED or LASER optical transmitter and PIN diode receiver at wavelengths of 1,300 nm for multimode and 1,300/1,550 nm for single-mode operation. Typical applications for the multiplexer include extending SDH/SONET backbones and adding telephone voice, Ethernet, and serial service to existing fiber-optic links.


Hewlett-Packard ProCurve 3400cl-24G ( The switch supports all fiber and copper standards for implementing Gigabit infrastructure for higher bandwidth capabilities. The unit has 20 RJ-45 10/100/1000 access ports that meet IEEE 802.3 Type 10Base-T, IEEE 802.3u Type 100Base-T, and IEEE 802.3ab 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet. Four dual personality ports provide 10/100/1000 or mini-GBIC slots for optional fiber connectivity such as Gigabit-SX, -LX, or -LH. Using ST, FC, or SC fiber-optic connectors, the unit delivers throughput up to 64 million pps and routing/switching capacity performance of 88 Gbps. The switch supports a maximum of two 10-Gbyte Ethernet, 24 10/100/1000 ports, or a combination of the two.


Balluff M5 ( The ultra-small M5 sensor connector combined with a proximity sensor designed specifically for it provides new sensing possibilities. The 10-30V dc sensors have diameters of 4 mm for a smooth barrel and 5 mm for the threaded barrel versions. The M5 locking ring connectors have an outside connector nut diameter measuring 6 mm in diameter and are available in straight and right angle versions. The 4 mm sensor with the M5 connector has a rated operating distance of 0.8 mm. The 5 mm unit has an extended operating distance of 1.5 mm, two times the normal operating range.


Cypress Computer Systems, Inc DPX-7212 ( Even wireless systems need connectors—in this case, four terminal connectors. The terminal block style connectors provide an easy installation for the wireless control in the remote card readers and the access control panel in access control security systems. The wireless portion of the unit uses Lantronix' WiPort module to connect two readers for a door or gate over an 802.11 Ethernet IP based network to a Wiegand, MagStripe, or F/2F encoded data control panel. The four terminal blocks have two six-pin and two eight-pin connectors to handle power, alarm relay actuators, and digital data including the Wiegand interface.

Logic Analyzers Go Beyond 1's and 0's

Engineers select a logic analyzer when they must determine the states and timing of many parallel signals, such as those from a microcontroller or other processor. However, the need to analyze and monitor multi-lane serial buses such as PCI Express and Serial Advanced Technology Attachment III (SATA III) can exceed the capabilities of many logic analyzers (LAs). To help designers, today's logic analyzers must parse serial bit streams and reassemble them into data meaningful to engineers. Two new logic analyzers from Tektronix, the TLA7012 portable mainframe and the TLA7016 benchtop mainframe, handle such serial streams and provide an easy-to-use interface that simplifies test setup and interpretation of data. Both instruments operate with every logic analyzer module in the company's TLA family. The TLA7012 accepts two modules (272 digital channels) and the TLA7016 can accommodate as many as six modules (816 digital channels).

The TLA7016 benchtop instrument ($16,000) connects to a host PC and the TLA7012 portable logic analyzer ($14,000) comes with a built-in computer based on an Intel® Pentium® M processor. The new instruments provide more than a threefold increase in data throughput that results in faster data analysis, searching, zooming, and filtering. More than any other feature, though, the new TLA Application Software 5.0 sets these new instruments apart from other logic analyzers.

Old Hat, New Tricks

The software's drag-and-drop interface may sound like old hat, but Tektronix uses the Windows-like operations and interfaces in new ways. Engineers no longer must switch screens or press long sequences of buttons to select triggering options. They can select triggers and setup menus, and invoke other tools by clicking on "tabs" while simultaneously watching data and locating trigger points within a data window. Trigger setups— trigger on an edge, trigger on a bus value, and so on—seem almost intuitive and do not require selections from long lists. The 15-inch (diagonal) display in the TLA7012 makes it easy to simultaneously view complex logic waveforms, analysis results, and trigger settings. Should developers feel the need, they can use two side-by-side displays with the TLA7012 or TLA7016 to create a wider display of signals and data.

The software's analysis tools simplify measurements by relying on users to position cursor marks and trigger points on displayed data. The TLA Application Software 5.0 runs with Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000. Engineers can update older instruments, such as the TLA715, TLA721, and the TLA5000 series, to use the new software.

Plugged In: Engineers can add TLA-family modules to the TLA7012 logic analyzer and access as many as 262 logic signals. A large display makes it easy to view data, analysis results, trigger settings, and other information.


Managing Wafer Fabrication

The semiconductor industry uses wafer fabrication technology that produces highly sophisticated electronic logic and control devices known as integrated circuits (IC). This process involves silicon, the basic element in sand, provided in thin disks or wafers, and modifies if through a process that involves a vacuum, heat, and the implantation of atoms by chemical and gaseous means creating sub-micron circuits of miraculous structure. Once the process is complete, you'll have a wafer of pure silicone with millions of devices in its makeup. The devices are identical so the next step is to dice the disks into thousands of IC devices. It is packaged with electrical connections and rigorously tested. The "front end" is the technology used during the creation of the disk and the remaining portion is the "back end."

Wafer fabrication equipment includes furnaces that heat the silicone into a crystal that is drawn into a log-like structure. This structure is then cut into disks. The next step involves lithography and chemical or gas deposition, which creates the electronic architecture that will become the finished wafer.

Shock Absorber

In wafer fabrication, shock absorbers provide controlled, predictable deceleration. These products work by converting kinetic energy to thermal energy. More specifically, motion applied to the piston of a hydraulic shock absorber pressurizes the fluid and forces it to flow through restricting orifices, causing the fluid to heat rapidly. The thermal energy is then transferred to the cylinder body and harmlessly dissipated to the atmosphere. This process allows for safe deceleration of moving loads in a relatively short distance at the end of the machine cycle.

Shock absorbers come in adjustable and non-adjustable varieties. The hydraulic devices generally use Krytox as the fluid in many semiconductor applications. These semiconductor units are usually miniature and not adjustable. The two most common types of dampening are dashpot and the progressive type of deceleration. Dashpot or constant orifice area dampening provide the largest shock force at the beginning of the stroke and provide high-energy absorption in a small economical design. Progressive dampening provides deceleration with a gradually increasing shock load. The initial minimal resistance at impact protects delicate loads and machinery from damage. Progressive dampening shock absorbers also have built in self-compensation for a wide range of weights and velocities. This type of dampening provides smooth decelerations in applications where energy conditions are unknown.

Often when the dampening profile is not known on a new design, adjustable units rather than non-adjustable are used to determine the best profile. The principle reasons for using non-adjustable units is that they are tamper-resistant and less costly.

Many applications are simple X and Y types of motion that use pneumatic cylinders or slides to create the back and forth or up and down motion. Most slide manufacturers offer shock absorbers as an option. Pneumatic cylinders use internal cushions, which are not very precise in providing smooth stops. For precision stops on cylinder applications, the shocks are mounted in the device in motion and used to provide a soft stop.

Pneumatic Rotary Actuator

Pneumatic rotary actuators are also used to provide up to 360 degrees of motion. These devices also use shocks to provide smooth stops and, in some cases, adjust the stroke of a unit.

Servo- and stepper-driven stages will use shocks as an emergency stops. Usually these motor-driven units cycle back and forth as dictated by the motion profile and going into a hard stop is not good practice. If a travel overrun does occur, then a shock absorber can supply a smooth deceleration and provide a soft stop. Shock absorbers designed for this type of emergency stop are either one-shot shocks or designed for very limited cycle life.

Front end processes—where the disks are created—employ shock absorbers to smooth the point-to-point transfer of wafers. Wafer boats carry them between process stations. Loads at the front end are generally light and velocites there usually low. The same can be said for loaders and unloaders.

Back end processes are generally light loads but they are of high and varying velocities. Dicing saws, packaging equipment, and test equipment are usually servo motor-driven with pneumatics on doors and transfer mechanisms. Shock absorbers continue to be economical, efficient ways of converting kinetic energy created during process to eliminate damage to equipment.

Rate Controls

Rate devices control the rate of the total travel of the mechanical motion. They are linear or rotary. These linear devices are hydraulic and control motion on the extend stroke, the retract stroke, or both directions. They are available as adjustable or non-adjustable.

Rotary Viscous Damper (RVD)

An RVD consists of an outer housing that is stationary and an inner disk that rotates via shaft connection to the rotating load. The device is filled with silicone fluid whose viscosity matches the application. As the disk rotates, it shears the silicon fluid and produces controlled rotary motion in both directions.

Applications for these devices involve pneumatically or manually generated motions that require economical motion controls. Process chambers that are opened by hand, as well as roll feeders and pneumatic loaders, are machines on which such devices are used.

Wire Rope Isolator

Wire rope isolators are simple devices made of stainless steel stranded cable and retaining bars. They provide a high performance level of shock and vibration isolation. They are not affected by temperature and are environmentally stable.


Vibrations from pumps, fans, motors, and other rotating devices can be a source of problems and downtime. Imagine a service cart moving between stations, that slight movement can produce intermittent difficulties that are hard to identify.

These problems consist of calibration, sensor accuracy, false process alarms, and long-term damage to solder joints and connectors. Wire ropes are a good alternative to elastomer type units that age and harden.

Wire rope isolators are also used in shipping containers and skids to eliminate damage caused by shock and vibration to equipment during transport.

About Enidine. With its world headquarters located in Orchard Park, NY, Enidine Inc. specializes in the design and manufacture of standard and custom energy absorption and vibration isolation product solutions within the industrial, aerospace, defense, and rail markets. Enidine products include shock absorbers, rate controls, air springs, wire rope and compact wire rope isolators, heavy industry buffers, and emergency stops. Its facilities are located throughout the U.S., Germany, U.K., Japan, Korea, and China.

Extended Range Inductive Sensors

Several companies recently have introduced inductive sensors with an extended range from 25 percent to 300 percent over standard products. (The industry standard sensing range is 2 mm for a flush mounted, unshielded sensor.) Of course, there really is no such thing as a free lunch, as some of the typical trade-offs for extended range sensors include operating temperature range, operating frequency, and noise immunity.


Turck's Uprox+ sensor detects iron, steel, stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and brass with no impact on the rated sensing distance. It uses two pairs of emitters and receiver coils printed on a circuit board instead of the wound coil in conventional ferrite core inductive sensors, resulting in sensing distances up to 250 percent higher. An integrated, predamping protection function allows flush-mounted sensors to be recessed by half a turn for enhanced mechanical protection. A slight reduction in sensing distance occurs for non-flush mounted sensors, but barrel-style sensors can be embedded in metal up to the outer edge of the thread and rectangular style sensors can be embedded on all four sides. For more information on Turck Uprox+ sensors, go to


Balluff's HyperProx extended range sensors have up to 300 percent greater range than standard-range sensors of the same size. However, the improvement is not necessarily linear or the same for all products. As an example, the standard M8 sensor has a 1.5 mm rating per the IEC standard and the 2× version, 3×, and 4× versions are 2, 3, and 4 mm, respectively. To achieve the performance boost, Balluff uses more windings and higher frequency wiring, including multistranded wiring to create higher field strength. The designs also employ tightened specs for components, such as the housing. For more information on Balluff HyperProx sensors, go to


Moduloc Series 2000 long-range inductive proximity sensors have sensing ranges from 20 mm (0.79 inches) to 200 mm (8 inches). The combination of large physical structures, coil materials, and construction provide the extended range. Non-flush units designed for mounting on steel have nominal ranges of 50, 75, and 130 mm. Flush units designed for embedded mounting on steel have nominal ranges of 20, 55, and 110 mm. Flat-pack, semi-flush units for mounting in surrounding steel framework have nominal ranges of 120, 140, and 200 mm and are available in lengths from 300 to 1,200 mm. All of these distances are for iron. Distances are reduced to 85 percent for CrNi, 54 percent for brass, 50 percent for aluminum, and 46 percent for copper. For more information on Moduloc Series 2000 sensors, go to


With a sensing range of 6 to 40 mm, Pepperl and Fuchs X-Series extended range inductive proximity sensors offer 50 to 100 percent greater range than standard inductive proximity sensors. For example, the unshielded, three-wire dc NEN40-30GM60-E2-V1 has a sensing range of 40 mm for an M30 non-flush mount. Operating at a switching frequency of 100 Hz, the unit has a nickel-plated brass housing and Crastin sensing face for use in harsh environments. A shielded X-Series M8 has a 2 mm range, and an unshielded version of 3 mm, compared to an industry standard of 1.5 mm. For more information on Pepperl and Fuchs X-Series sensors, go to


Using a standard steel (cold-rolled steel St 37) target, the range of the shielded version for Carlo Gavazzi Inc.'s extended range sensors is 4 mm and the unshielded is 8 mm—both values are double that of standard sensors. Sensing ranges for M12 are 4 mm for the flush mount and 8 mm for the non-flush mount. Likewise, the M18 sensing range is 8 mm and 14 mm and the M30 is 15 mm and 22 mm. Operating frequency for the M12 shielded flush unit is 1,000 Hz versus 800 Hz for the unshielded, non-flush version. Similarly, the M18 is 500 and 400 Hz and the M30 is 400 and 200 Hz. For more information on Carlo Gavazzi extended range inductive sensors, go to

Web Resources
//Check out the links below for other sources for inductive sensors, including extended range products//
Baumer Electric:
ifm efector:
OmronE2A Modular Proximity Sensors:
Rockwell Automation:
A helpful calculator to evaluate the need for an extended range sensor:



Solid state

The 2,500 btu thermoelectric air conditioner has no compressor, refrigerants, or filters. It is designed to provide reliable, maintenance-free cooling in indoor and outdoor applications. Constructed to NEMA 4× standards, the product is suitable for use in operating environments up to 140F. The flush-mount design eliminates protrusion into the enclosure, and it features a built-in adjustable electronic thermostat, high-performance nickel-plated heat sinks, and an integral condensate drip pan.
EIC Solutions Inc.


Full spectrum

The LK Series is a 1W LED module capable of up to 60-lumen output for a variety of general illumination and specialty lighting applications. It uses Cree® XLamp technology, provided in a SMD that is packaged onto an aluminum PCB base, using standard reflow processes to achieve electrical and thermal connections without epoxy. It is designed to offer up to 130 percent more color gamut for greater color saturation, while providing 40-60 lumen outputs.


Reduced installed cost

The company's Factory Line Ethernet family features a new managed compact switch (MCS) that combines high performance with reduced installed cost required for distributed Ethernet applications. The MCS features 16 10/100 TX ports with a multimode fiber option that meets distributed connection requirements. With a working depth of 71 mm, the product can be mounted in enclosures 25 to 35 percent smaller with installed cost savings of 35 percent. It combines full industrialization with the complete range of message filtering, VLAN, redundancy, and security functions to meet the needs of distributed real-time applications.
Phoenix Contact


Allows fast design of board-level products

The PM854 is a small computer on module (COM) that makes all the features of the company's Freescale PowerQUICC MPC8540 available for custom design. It is designed as a complete and autonomous, working industrial computer, allowing the user to decide which kind of available I/O will be used for a certain application. The module makes all MPC8540 I/O signals available, without any restriction together with the local bus. All signals are routed to high density connectors to the carrier board.


Increases PCB fault coverage

ClearVue 3D x-ray technology for detecting PCB solder and production defects is designed to increase quality, efficiency, and simplicity of automated x-ray inspection. According to the company, both quality managers and production line controllers will benefit from its unique ability to identify material issues more quickly and with absolute certainty. The product is designed for densely packed single- or double-sided boards that use BGA-style components and problematic loss of electrical or optical access.


Up to 64 Mbytes Flash

The PM854 and PM826 miriac modules are based on the company's Freescale PowerQUICC-III MPC8540 and MPC8560 processor. DDR-SDRAM technology is designed to additionally increase the performance. All processor and I/O signals, such as Gigabit Ethernet, RapidIO, and PCI-X, are routed to high-density connectors. The size of the PM854 module is 80 × 95 mm². Also available are extended temperature versions: -40 to +85C. Features include a memory management unit and up to 64 Mbytes Flash. Dynatem


Saves time

The company's complete rotary position and speed sensing system meets international CENELC/ATEX hazardous environmental ratings. The intrinsic safety (IS) system consists of a rotary encoder, cable assembly, and an IS barrier. When combined, these components satisfy requirements for a loop-approved, Class I, Division I, Group A, B, C, and D sensing system.
BEI Industrial Encoder Div.


Reduces footprint by 84 percent

The SOT-723 flat-lead package includes more than 50 small signal transistors and small signal diodes. It uses 1.44 mm2 of printed circuit board area, reportedly improving the silicon-to-package ratio and delivers high power-dissipation performance. Devices to be offered in the package include digital transistors, bipolar transistors, and small signal Schottkys and small signal switching diodes. It has a package dimension of 1.2 × 1.2 × 0.5 mm, and it delivers a footprint reduction of 84 percent.
ON Semiconductor


Delivers high-speed inspections

Able to accurately sense and evaluate more than 10,000 objects per minute, the P4 EDGE is fit for validating the height and width of parts, finding the location of labels, or detecting the edge of materials such as plastic or paper on a Web operation. Other features also make it easy to deploy and be operational quickly. For applications where product lines are constantly being changed, a remote TEACH feature allows the sensor to learn new elements it will need to inspect without connecting to a PC or shutting down the line. It can interface to machines and factory networks via its built-in 10/100 Ethernet connection, RS-232, or discrete input/outputs. Included mounting brackets facilitate easy location of the P4 EDGE sensors on machines or conveyors. The units feature three bicolor LED indicators to clearly show unit status during setup and operation.
Banner Engineering


Low power, low voltage

Intended for consumer, medical, and general applications for barometric pressure/altitude, the MS5534B is an SMD-hybrid device including a piezo-resistive pressure sensor and an ADC-interface IC. It provides a 16-bit data word from a pressure- and temperature-dependent voltage. Additionally the module contains six readable coefficients for a highly accurate software calibration of the sensor. The MS5534B comes with automatic power down (on/off) switching, and a three-wire interface for all communications with a microcontroller. Sensor packaging options are plastic or metal cap. Compared to the previous generation, the temperature range has been improved (-40 to +125C) as well as the pressure range (measurement down to vacuum). Other improvements have been made with ESD sensitivity, current consumption, and converter accuracy.
Servoflo Corp.

65 nm and Beyond

Where does Texas Instruments stand in the development of 65 nm technology?

To give you a little history, we qualified our 90 nm for production at the end of 2003, and we typically release a new node every two years. This year, we already have samples of our new 65 nm chips in customers' hands, and we expect to be in volume production by the end of this year.

What is your first chip in the 65 nm node?

It's a wireless digital baseband chip used in such applications as cell phones. These chips have an embedded DSP (digital signal processor), microcontroller, ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit), and embedded SRAM (static random access memory). So it's a system-on-chip architecture.

What type of photolithography system are you using?

It's a dry system with a high numerical aperture and a 193 nm ArF light source. I don't know of anyone in the world who is planning immersion lithography for 65 nm production.

Will immersion lithography be needed for new generations of chips?

Yes. We are looking at immersion lithography for our 45 nm node, which we are targeting for volume production in late 2007 or early 2008. This allows time for equipment manufacturers to have new immersion systems ready. One of the issues that the equipment manufacturers have to resolve is that their first immersion machines still have numerical apertures (NAs) below 1.0—typically 0.92 or 0.93. We believe that NAs below 1.0 are not capable of 45 nm printing. So we are anticipating a second wave of machines from the equipment vendors with NAs above this 1.0 minimum in order to achieve the resolution and depth of focus we need for next-generation chips.

Where do the chief challenges lie in perfecting immersion systems?

Certainly, the optics are very important, such as developing projection lenses with high NAs. But overall the lithography equipment suppliers are learning about immersion technology right along with their customers. ASML, Nikon, and Canon are all offering dry lithography systems with NAs around 0.93, and their first step was to add an immersion stage to those platforms.

How important are the motion control systems in these cutting-edge lithography systems?

This year, Texas Instruments begins volume production of its 65-nm chip, which features an embedded DSP (digital signal processor), microcontroller, ASIC (application specific integrated circuit), and embedded SRAM (static random access memory).

They are extremely important. The wafer stage needs to move very fast to meet throughput requirements. Then you also need to change directions with the scanner, and you've got to minimize recoil in such maneuvers. Small nuances in those movements are very critical when you start patterning 65 and 45 nm chips. Lithography systems also must address the challenges created by the industry trend of producing more system-on-chip designs, which tend to be larger chips with more and more functionality. As chip sizes get larger, we need to make sure that there is very good lithography pattern control to maintain tight critical dimensions (CD) across the entire chip. Most scanner manufacturers have done a good job of controlling CD at a wafer level, but they are only now addressing what it takes to control CD within a chip or inside one shot.

How about challenges for semiconductor designs as you move from the 65 nm node to 45 nm?

As we scale down, we need to investigate new low-resistance materials, such as nickel. We also need to develop both circuit design and process techniques to address leakage problems in transistors, which occur as you scale down. This is particularly important for us at TI because our wireless chips are used in handheld devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, and digital cameras, where long battery life is important. At the same time, as you address leakage problems, you don't want to slow the transistor down. This is why we are working with strained silicon technology and other techniques to improve transistor performance and switching speeds.

Dr. Venu Menon, who joined TI in 1995, oversees 130 nm and 65 nm development. Prior to this assignment, he served as program manager for the 180 nm node, where he led the first copper process introduction for 180 nm. He holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

High-Voltage Design Deserves Attention

High-Voltage Design Deserves Attention

The electronics industry is out of balance, putting too many resources into a few product sectors at the expense of others.

"Smaller, faster, cheaper, better" is the electronics industry's mantra. It has given us worldwide communications literally in your pocket, the Web in your laptop, and more music than you could ever listen to in the palm of your hand.

But the creation of these wonders depends on increasingly smaller-scale, complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS), deep submicron chips operating at +5, +3.5, or even below +1.8V. (You've noticed how much longer your cell phone runs on a single charge? The lower operating voltage is a big part of the reason why.) Single-supply, low-voltage CMOS is where the R&D money has been going, all right. But it's left other market segments out in the cold. The industry mantra is, after all, a relative statement. What constitutes smaller for an MP3 player is very different than smaller for an MRI scanner.

The industrial instrumentation electronics market, for example, benefits from CMOS mainly in the digital domain; however, medical monitors, factory automation, control loops in electrically noisy workplaces need relatively higher voltage bipolar signals ( plus or minus 10V typically) to cope with the environment. Many electrical testers and medical devices rely on plus or minus 5V operating systems as well. They, too, have been left behind.

High-voltage bipolar and CMOS processes typically use 5-micron gate lengths and geometries-many generations behind what's running your new digital camera. The problem this presents to industrial-segment electronics designers is that it's very difficult to take advantage of the cost reductions that benefit pure digital, submicron designs. Analog signal conditioning needs to keep pace with the digital. Sure, there are more chopper amplifiers with low drift, but they don't handle the large signals required for factory automation. Adding digital circuitry to an old, large-geometry, high-voltage analog process results in chips that quickly get quite large, and therefore more costly. Where are the state-of-the-art higher-voltage, lower-cost industrial instrumentation chips? Only a few companies are responding to this need but, in fact, much of the technology developed for submicron chips can be used to produce chips that meet the requirements of industrial and medical manufacturers and adhere to the "smaller, faster, cheaper, better" mantra.

Clearly, "smaller, faster, cheaper, better" has been interpreted by many of the companies designing semiconductors as a technology challenge for digital ICs relative to the needs of portable consumer and communications devices. Where are the improvements to benefit higher-voltage applications?

With globalization in full swing and pressures on manufacturers unrelenting, industrial instrumentation applications must be able to move into the modern age. They can only get there if chip designs and manufacturing processes bring industrial components into the modern age.

Technology You Can Use

Technology You Can Use


Circuitry and ultrasmall packaging enable use in ultra-portable applications

With portable products getting smaller and smaller, engineers look for every opportunity to save space. One approach that has been used in computers for many years is changing parallel data lines into serial data path to eliminate wires that have to be routed between various components, such as the display and the processor in a portable PC. An integrated circuit (IC) designed specifically for ultra-portable products makes this approach feasible for applications such as a hinged display in a flip phone.

High-speed data communication for higher resolution and increased number of colors can mean increased electromagnetic interference (EMI). In addition, ultra-portable applications require very low power, ultrasmall packaging, and very low cost. All of these issues have been addressed in recently introduced serial/deserialization (SerDes) ICs known as muSerDes products. Using differential signaling technologies, including complementary transistor logic (CTL) and enhanced low voltage differential signaling (LpLVDS), engineers have reduced EMI by as much 30 to 40 dBm over previous approaches. LpLVDS is LVDS technology for shorter distances and lower power with a voltage swing of 250 mV and maximum power dissipation of 5 mW per channel. CTL is the first differential signaling technology to sense current direction at the receiver. Its voltage swing is about 50 mV, power dissipation per channel is less than 1 mW at 1.8V cc, and EMI is -90 dB lower than levels in LpLVDS at fundamental frequencies. Both of these technologies have been used to develop 12-, 22-, and 24-bit bidirectional serializer/deserializer ICs that provide up to 56 MHz parallel interface operation and draw as little as 100 nA in standby. Packaging that ranges from an 8 x 8 mm 40-pin molded leadless package (MLP) to a 42-pin ball grid array (BGA) that is only 3.5 x 4.5 mm addresses both size and cost constraints in ultra-portable products.

A typical unidirectional communication application between a processor and a color LCD display can reduce the number of wires in a flex cable from 25 to only four. If the application requires bidirectional communication, the cable reduction can be as much as 50:7 and with bussing this increases to as much as a 96:7 reduction.

Less Wires: Unidirectional communication with a pair of serial/deserializer ICs between a processor and a color LCD display can reduce the number of wires from 25 for horizontal and vertical sync (H/VSYNC) to only four.

CONTACT: Mike Fowler, Fairchild Semiconductor Tel: 207- 671-1403; e-mail: [email protected]


Both digital and current loop could be future options

To communicate high-resolution sensor data in vehicle applications such as power train, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is developing the Single Edge Nibble Transmission (SENT) encoding scheme. The Vehicle Architecture for Data Communications Standards committee document is Single Edge Nibble Transmission for Automotive Applications, SAE J2716. SENT can replace lower-resolution methods using 10 bit A-D converters and PWM techniques and provides a simpler, low-cost alternative to digital buses such as CAN or LIN.

Time Trigger: With SENT, the receiver calibrates the system on the fly by measuring the calibration pulse from falling edge to falling edge. A 4-bit status and communications nibble follows terminated by the cyclical redundancy check (CRC) nibble. Each successive nibble contains 4 bits of data, which can be used to represent two 12-bit words. For example, this could be two throttle body sensor values, but the data can be grouped in a different manner for alternative applications. The status byte transmits serial data for sensor identification or slow sensor data as temperature.

With 8-bit data and the typical 0.5 to 4.5V full-scale output in a 5V power bus, 1-bit of resolution is 16 mV. Today, 10-bit resolution is common for the more sophisticated control systems to meet emission standards and to achieve improved fuel economy and driveability. In the 10-bit system, a single bit is 4 mV, which presents a severe problem in automotive applications due to noise. Vehicle electrical systems typically show 25 to 50 mV of noise under most conditions and under extremely poor conditions this increases to 150 mV of noise. The noise level does not change in spite of the increase from 8-bit to 10-bit resolution and the need for 12-bit data is not far away.

In the digital implementation of SENT, the sensor signal is transmitted as a series of pulses with data measured as falling edge to falling edge times. The serial data protocol operates with an update rate higher than 1 kHz using a 168 musec ( plus or minus 20 percent) nominal framing pulse for the start of transmission pulse, the standardization pulse. The existing noise voltage pulses do not matter when time is measured in the SENT approach, since it is a time critical system. However, in the digital three-wire system, spark type noise can be inductively coupled and produce edges in the wrong place. A two-wire 10 to 17 mA current loop greatly reduces the potential noise problem. These values are being considered instead of the 4 to 20 mA used in analog industrial applications based on the current draw of many legacy sensors. Power dissipation in the sensor and power dissipation at the receiving end in the module are among the factors being considered. In addition to reducing the noise problem beyond the digital three-wire implementation, wiring costs can be reduced as well. The current interface is being added to the standard, which should go to ballot in the summer of 2005.

CONTACT:Nick Richards, General Motors Powertrain Tel: 248-857-0163; e-mail: [email protected]
The status of SAE J2716 Standard is shown at: