The Many Flavors of Automotive Electronics

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



Our automotive/infotainment issue just might be the most diverse offering of the year – most of us drive cars, so OEMs have a wide variety of avenues to approach one of the industry’s most universal topics. Thus, the July/August issue covers such varied themes as audio amplifiers, MLCCs, and SiC MOSFETs, all of them falling under the same, wide umbrella.

Coilcraft helms the Cover Story, and their piece delves into one of the most important parts of the automotive experience – the sound system. Class-D switched-mode amplifiers offer low heat generation, small size, light weight, and very high power efficiency, which makes them perfect for DC-powered audio applications in automotive sound systems.

“The theoretical efficiency limit of Class-D amplifiers is 100%,” notes Coilcraft’s Christopher Hare. “While this cannot be achieved in practice due to the uncompromising second law of thermodynamics, the efficiency of Class-D amplifiers is significantly higher than the linear amplifier classes, achieving over 90% at full load.”

Ron Demcko, with AVX Corporation, authors the next piece, and in it, he examines “two automotive transient voltage control options, transient voltage suppression clamps (i.e., multilayer varistors) and integration capacitors, and compares and contrasts multilayer varistors, ESD-Safe™ MLCCs, and slow-pulse capable multilayer ceramic capacitors.”

The company’s ESD-Safe multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) are intended for use in IEC 61000-4-2 applications subjected to human-body model (HBM) strikes (150pF, 330Ω), and while many common transients are slow in speed, these MLCCs are designed for fast transients hardening.

Finally, Dennis Meyer and Jason Chiang, both of them with Microsemi, cover one of the preeminent topics in power electronics -- silicon carbide (SiC). Wide bandgap silicon carbide solutions “are on the cusp of huge growth within the transportation sector” and they’re “increasingly being adopted for mainstream automotive applications like DC-DC converter, external/onboard charger and powertrain traction control/motor drive.”

The duo concludes that the “benefits of SiC solutions over silicon IGBT and super junction MOSFET-based solutions are evident at the system level for efficiency and reliability at high power.”

Enjoy the July/August issue, and be sure to check out our extensive coverage of automotive electronics at

Jason Lomberg

North American Editor, PSD