Five trends shaping the future of power management designs

From smartphones and electric vehicles (EVs) to EV charging stations and telecom hubs, power management has increasingly become a key factor in enabling the electronics we use every day. Until recent years, high-efficiency power management often took a back seat to other design considerations. But that has changed. Over the past five to ten years, considerations such as extending battery life while reducing application size, securing systems, and meeting consumer expectations for more reliable and less expensive ones that load faster have intensified the focus on addressing key power design issues.

Figure 1 Improvements in process, packaging, and circuit design give developers the tools to make power electronics more efficient. Source: Texas Instruments

Improvements in new process, packaging, and circuit design technologies provide engineers with the highest levels of efficiency for the systems they design. As the world consumes more and more energy, we must all strive to ensure that the energy we produce goes further and lasts longer. Today, generational improvements in five key areas help push the power further.

  1. Power density improves performance in small spaces

Electronic systems require increased functionality that often exceeds the amount of power available. This requires improving the amount of power handled in a given form factor – or power density – which is made possible by higher switching efficiency and frequencies. Power designers seek to squeeze more power into smaller spaces to differentiate their products, increase efficiency and improve thermal performance.

In the case of gallium nitride (GaN), power system designers have shown significant interest in applications such as AC/DC chargers and server power supplies, where higher density and efficiency add value. significant. Of course, power density is critical in virtually all applications, including solar power and electric vehicles. Consumers want smaller, less energy-consuming solutions.

  1. Low EMI reduces system costs

Reducing electromagnetic interference (EMI) – an undesirable byproduct of switching currents and voltages – is increasingly important for electronic systems, especially in automotive and industrial applications. Designing for low EMI can reduce passive filter size, cost, design time, and complexity. Choosing the right power semiconductors allows engineers to downsize the power solution and lower its EMI. With IT LM25149-Q1 and LM25149for example, engineers can halve the area of ​​the external EMI filter, reduce the conducted EMI of the power design, and achieve a combination of reduced filter size and low EMI.

Figure 2 Reducing EMI allows electrical system designers to quickly comply with EMI standards. Source: Texas Instruments

  1. Low quiescent current extends battery life and conservation

In battery-powered systems, the demand for chips that handle low quiescent current (low IQ) – the current drawn when a device is on but in sleep mode – is triggered by seeking higher performance for longer periods of time. Down IQ is important for multiple applications, including smoke detectors, health monitors, and smartwatches. These apps spend a lot of their time in sleep mode, waiting to wake up when needed.

Building automation is one of the fastest growing markets for low quiescent current end equipment. Today, battery-powered and energy harvesting systems spend more than 99% of their time in sleep mode. This makes the careful optimization of the quiescent current in power electronics particularly critical. Advances in circuitry and processes have enabled chipmakers to meet the needs of design engineers who are looking for more functionality while preserving battery life.

  1. Low noise and accuracy improve signal integrity

Noise is an electrical by-product generated by all components and caused by multiple sources. At TI, our low-noise portfolio strives to minimize both self-generated noise from our ICs and filter noise from upstream sources. If not mitigated, this noise can negatively impact the performance of sensitive applications such as medical equipment and communications infrastructure. Low noise is especially important in power supplies powering precision circuits such as analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), analog front-ends, and clocks for integrated circuits.

  1. Isolation enhances security

Isolation is important in a world where humans and machines constantly interact. Isolation, a barrier that provides protection while allowing the exchange of signals and/or power, is essential for the reliable and safe operation of high voltage systems. For example, an isolated DC/DC bias power supply module like the one from TI UCC14240-Q1 can be used in an EV traction inverter to power grid drivers while maintaining isolation between the high voltage domain and the car chassis. Isolation technologies can improve system reliability, reduce form factors, and simplify EMI compliance for end products.

Jeffrey Morroni is director of power management at Kilby Labs, a corporate R&D group at Texas Instruments.

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