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Technical Paper

The Role of Power Electronics in Future Automotive Systems

As features in vehicles and their associated loading on the vehicle's power supply increase, the existing 14V power supply system is being pushed to its limits. At some point it will be necessary to provide a complementary higher supply voltage for higher power loads to ensure reliable operation. Industry efforts have been underway to define the next step(s) toward a common architecture. These efforts are currently focused on a dual voltage 14V/42V system with specified voltage limits. A change in the vehicle's power supply voltage and over-voltage specifications have a direct impact on semiconductors. Cost, reliability, available process technology, and packaging are among the areas that are affected. Reducing or eliminating the load dump transient can provide cost reduction, especially for power switching devices. Smart semiconductor switches with integrated diagnostic and protection features provide the potential to replace fuses in the new architecture.
Technical Paper

Automotive Silicon Sensor Integration

Silicon by virtue of its electrical and mechanical properties is eminently suited for use in mechanical and other types of sensors. The integration of these sensors with signal conditioning circuits is being used to develop a wide variety of cost effective devices for use in automotive applications. A number of micromachining techniques and methods of converting mechanical force to electrical signals are available. Each of these must be evaluated for ease of integration with respect to the types of signal conditioning that are required to obtain the most cost effective system solution. Additional factors that have to be considered are analog versus digital outputs, temperature operating range, linearity, self test features, reliability, packaging, testing and assembly problems. This paper will explore and evaluate these features for silicon pressure, position and acceleration (crash) sensors developed for automotive applications.
Technical Paper

Replacing Relays with Semiconductor Devices in Automotive Applications

New systems and extended warranties have added requirements to controlling automotive loads that will accelerate the rate at which semiconductor switches are used in new models. These requirements could mean the eventual replacement of electro-mechanical relays. This paper will examine the requirements of the new automotive “relay” and describe three semiconductor technologies - bipolar, power MOS and smart power - that are being used to provide the power-to-load interface for present and future automobiles. The technology used for each approach and its advantages and disadvantages will be discussed and examples of typical automotive applications will be provided. Also, the packaging and mounting considerations for semiconductor devices in the role of a replacement for relays will be discussed.