The Heat is On

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



August means vacation time for most of us here in Europe. Unfortunately it is still difficult to travel abroad because of the pandemic, so most people will have to stay much closer to home. At the time of writing Scotland is having a heatwave. People from other countries would probably scoff at temperatures of 33oC being described as a heatwave, but that is the highest temperature ever recorded in the country. While it has been enjoyable to travel and see Scotland’s sites in dry, hot weather, it is most likely another symptom of the changing global climate, along with record temperatures in Russia, and floods in Germany, Belgium and China. Obviously, it is important not to get mixed up between local weather and global temperatures, but the ten warmest years on record for Scotland have all happened since 1997, and the overall average temperature last decade was 0.7oC warmer than the average temperature between 1961 and 1990. That looks like a real trend, and along with other data from around the world showing a similar trajectory, the trend is worrying. 

We see a lot of governments proposing action, but many of those actions have been pushed to the future and no real urgency has been shown. Along with phasing out fossil fuels and moving to renewable energy, the most widely adopted pledge from leading countries is stopping the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles. The UK is at the forefront of that, and even then the target date is nine years away. In the absence of urgent political will, the best way to sell electric vehicles to customers is to make them a compelling choice. Elon Musk did that with Tesla when he targetted the higher priced vehicle market and he did a good job in designing vehicles that compared favourably with those on the market in many aspects, such as performance and features. In others aspects though, electric vehicles lag behind, particularly in range and infrastructure. This is a huge opportunity for the electronics market. It is only through innovation that electric vehicles can overcome the hurdles to mainstream adoption.  

We will have a look at some of that innovation in this month’s Special Report, which is on Electric and Hybrid Vehicles. In our first feature, Dr. Stefan Buschhorn and Klaus Vogel from Infineon talk packaging, and in particular how the company’s new wave baseplate can improve the thermal performance on an open, liquid-cooled heat sink, without altering other parts of the power module. The new approach can increase in output current by over 20 percent, or increase the lifetime for a given load profile. Our other Special Report feature is from Analog Devices and it looks at improved features. Tao Tao and Trevor Crane write about incorporating USB charging into vehicles. 

Best regards,

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD