It’s all about materials

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD

Welcome to the May edition of PSD. This year seems to be constantly busy and the time is flying in. Maybe it is because the industry is on the crest of a wave at the moment, or it may be that the number of important events is increasing and we are constantly in the lead up to another one. This month, we start to look at the premier European event for the power industry, PCIM.

As legislation demands products become even more efficient, more industries are looking to power designers to provide the solution. This has led to power being showcased in vertical events more frequently. Exhibitions, such as Medtech now feature power supply manufacturers extensively, and Europe’s largest industrial fair, Hanover Messe, even has it’s own power technical stream. SPS IPC Drives Expo in Nuremberg last November also had a large amount of power supply manufacturers exhibiting.

Even events that focus on other areas of electronics often have a growing list of power manufacturers attending. For example, Embedded World had a noticeable jump in the number of power manufacturers taking up stands. No matter how important other shows become, PCIM is the one place where power companies come to show off their true innovation in the field, months and years before those innovations find their way into the product halls at Embedded World or Hanover. Much like the APEC exhibition earlier this year in Texas, PCIM’s innovation will include a huge focus on wide-bandgap materials and packaging technologies.     

That is one reason we have chosen those topics to be the main theme of the magazine this month. Materials such as GaN and SiC have started a revolution in the power industry. The original theory behind those materials’ properties had been discovered decades ago. Putting that theory into practice started much more recently, around 15 years ago. That research and development is now coming to fruition as techniques are refined and we tease every drop of performance out of wide-bandgap materials. Patrick Le Fevre of Powerbox was working on advanced materials at the start of the practical development and was also at APEC in March. In the issue he talks about how the technologies have developed over the last decade and a half to get to where we are today.

Another article on the topic this month is from UnitedSiC. There’s no doubt of the benefits offered by SiC technology, especially in power conversion circuits. However, to gain these benefits usually requires a full redesign of the product, which is not practical be for many companies. UnitedSiC takes a different approach, offering designers drop-in SiC replacements that allow access to many of the benefits of the material. Read more about that technology inside.

And if you do attend PCIM this year, don’t forget that PSD will be running a round table at the event on 12 pm on Tuesday. The discussion will focus on the future of the industry. It would be great if you could join us there.