Charged Up for Summer

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD

­July is traditionally the holiday season in Europe, and hopefully you are on a beach or somewhere else just as relaxing. It has been a busy start to the year, and it looks like the end of the year will be even busier. If you are lying on the beach, it is likely that some of you will be listening to music on your phone, through the latest wireless earbuds. You may even take a break to catch up on the news headlines, check your emails, watch a sporting event, order another margarita from the hotel bar, take a multi-megapixel photo, capture a 4K 50hz video, or just browse the internet, all through your phone’s high-definition touchscreen. Most of these activities are fairly recent innovations. Even ten years ago, accessing all of your media on one device was more of a dream than reality. It is innovation in electronics that has helped the phone to become the centrepiece of our lives, and it is innovation in low-power design, power management and battery technology that means you can do those tasks for the majority of the day. As more capabilities been added to the phone, advances in those technologies ensure that a moderately used phone would still have charge for a full day.

Batteries have become such a big part of our lives, and it is to the credit of their designers that we tend not to think about them too often. The first thing I bought with my first pay cheque was a Toshiba portable radio cassette recorder. It was my pride and joy for a long time, but it didn’t leave the house too often, and when it did, I had a pocketful of spare batteries in my pocket. I did nothing but worry about batteries, and as most batteries at the time were non-rechargeable, it cost plenty of money and lead to a lot of toxic waste. We can think ourselves lucky these days for the batteries we have, and know that the improvements will continue to be made in the future to keep our devices functioning all day.

We look at the latest battery technology in this month’s Special Report. Our first article is from NXP, and it talks about a dual 400 V/800 V switchable battery architecture that allows both long range and fast charging for electric vehicles. The second article in the Special Report this month comes from Analog Devices. The company’s Staff Field Applications Engineer, Simon Bramble writes about bootstrapping and how to drive heavy loads with a low battery input.

Best Regards,

Ally Winning

European Editor, PSD