What is the Pyroelectric Effect?

With the electronic industry trending more toward automated devices, their safety and reliability are assuming the utmost importance. Pyroelectric sensors help to make these devices work properly, by indicating changes that require specific types of reactions. Many types of ceramic materials can absorb infrared rays and generate an electrical signal in response.

Certain crystalline materials demonstrate Pyroelectricity. These materials, which are electrically polarized, demonstrate a change in their polarization when they undergo a change in temperature. The change in polarization of the crystal material generates a temporary but detectable voltage across it. Different materials exhibit differences in pyroelectric coefficients that show their sensitivity to temperature.

Infrared radiation heats pyroelectric ceramic crystals to generate a detectable voltage. It is possible to detect the infrared rays the object is generating by using passive infrared sensors. The sensor can detect the wavelengths that the pyroelectric ceramic crystal absorbed when it is in position between the hot object and the sensor. Pyroelectricity has several applications.

Motion Sensors—Typically, there are two types of infrared motion sensors, active and passive. Active infrared sensors have a long range of operation, and the emitter and sensor can be far apart. A garage door safety sensor is a good example of an active sensor. Anything blocking the infrared beam across the opening of the garage door generates a signal to prevent the garage door from moving.

Passive infrared sensors can also detect motion by sensing infrared radiation or heat direct from a source. Such sensors can detect the presence, or absence, of an object emitting heat, such as a human body.

Pyroelectric motion sensors can be surface-mount devices and are highly sensitive. Manufacturers offer them in single-pixel configuration or as a 2×2 pixel configuration, allowing users to determine the direction of the motion it has detected. The sensors have a high dynamic range and a fast response time that ensures rapid and accurate motion detection.

Gas Sensors—Infrared pyroelectric sensors can detect and monitor gases. In fact, this is one of their most popular applications. The sensors operate by directing infrared radiation from an emitter through a sample of the gas. The detector senses if a certain IR wavelength is present on the other side. If the sensor does not detect that wavelength, it means the gas that absorbs this wavelength is present in the sample. Optical IR filters allow fine-tuning the sensor to a specific wavelength, thereby permitting only the desired wavelength to pass through to the sensing element.

Pyroelectric gas sensors are available in small SMD packages and most have a digital I2C output, although analog outputs are also available. The sensor consumes very low power but offers high sensitivity and extremely fast response times.

Food Sensors—Similar to gas sensors, infrared pyroelectric food sensors can detect food-related substances like sugar, lactose, or fat. These are typically general IR spectroscopy sensors for monitoring commercial, medical, or industrial substances or processes.

Flame Sensors—With pyroelectric elements, it is easy to construct sensors for detecting flames. As flames are strong, flame sensors, apart from detecting the presence of the flame, can also discriminate the source of the flame. Typically, they compare three specific IR wavelengths and their interrelated ratios. This allows them to detect flames with a high degree of accuracy.

MEMS Vibration Sensor

Analog Devices Inc. has unveiled their MEMS or Micro-Electro-Mechanical System-based accelerometer technology at the Sensors + Test Conference in Nuremberg, Germany. The MEMS vibration sensor can track vibrations at frequencies of 22 kHz. This is especially helpful for sensing high-frequency vibrations in industrial equipment.

The MEMS technology from Analog Devices is unique in the sense that it uses two MEMS mechanisms placed beside each other. The arrangement helps to cancel out common mode noise, favoring only the differential mode noise. Vibration and shock sensors from ADI are small format sensors that enable equipment designers to build vibration-detection chips within devices for industrial process-control, rather than as add-on modules.

Most vibration sensors today are piezo-electric-based modules. They have two disadvantages—it is not possible to mass-produce them, and their range is limited to 5-kHz frequencies. On the other hand, ADI makes their accelerometers in CMOS processing lines, and they can mass produce them easily. Additionally, ADI can undercut the prices of piezo-based vibration sensors by about 50 percent. For instance, the prices of ADI vibration sensors are around $35 as opposed to piezo-based sensors at $70.

With manufacturers looking for whatever they can get for improving the production and efficiency of their equipment, MEMS vibration sensors from ADI are the right products in the right place and at the right time. Although, when comparing unit shipments, the industrial market is small compared to the consumer electronics market, revenue-wise, the former is incredibly important and offers better margins. MEMS sensors address identified needs within the industrial market sector, and therefore, provide tangible value.

In the case of piezo-based vibration sensor modules, the standard practice is to bolt them onto the side of vibrating industrial equipment. However, using the chip-based accelerometer sensor from ADI is simpler, as it is possible to integrate it right within the circuit board of the device when assembling. ADI is of the opinion that some piezo-based vibration sensor manufacturers may retrofit MEMS chips into their bolt-on modules. However, ADI also expects OEMs of industrial equipment to stop using modules and rather start integrating ADI MEMS chips directly into their pumps, motors, gearboxes, and other pieces of industrial equipment.

Industrial equipment manufacturers are increasingly using vibration sensors as these can sense on-coming failure before it happens. For instance, a deteriorating bearing will vibrate at high frequencies before it fails. As it nears failure, its vibrating frequencies will drop until it finally disintegrates totally, possibly causing damage to the rotor. This is why predictive maintenance is increasingly becoming popular.

The present trend in the industry is to move towards predictive maintenance from preventive maintenance. Early detection through predictive maintenance can cut down repair costs by as much as 25 percent. Waiting to repair equipment until something fails can push up the maintenance costs more than ten times. Compared to other predictive maintenance techniques such as ultrasonic analysis or infrared thermography, vibration analysis offers better return-on-investments, by as much as three times.

ADI offers its vibration and shock sensors in ceramic packages, available in 70g, 250g, and 500g ranges.

Types of EV Connectivity

Technologies related to EVs or electric vehicles are undergoing enormous research and development efforts with the ultimate aim of achieving widespread EV adoption. Although at present, extending the driving range is occupying much of the direction of this effort, future benefits will ultimately extend beyond progressive battery and charging technologies.

For instance, for future EVs, there are exciting value propositions like the number of different connectivity technologies they will be featuring. This is the V2X or vehicle-to-everything connectivity that includes in-use technology like V2G or vehicle-to-grid, V2N or vehicle-to-network connectivity, and the emerging technology like V2V or vehicle-to-vehicle, which engineers expect will change the future working of EVs.

The recent production of EVs includes V2G or vehicle-to-grid connectivity. This refers to the EV’s ability to allow electricity to flow bidirectionally from the vehicle to the grid and back. The concept is that the batteries in the EV, being relatively large, can not only act as energy storage for the vehicle but also as energy storage for the grid and as V2H, energy storage for the home.

V2G, therefore, relies on a power electronics technology, bidirectional charging. Such an EV requires a versatile power conversion and control circuit, allowing conversion between the AC of the grid and the DC of the battery. There are innumerable benefits of V2G for both the vehicle owner and the grid.

The owner can use the EV not only as a vehicle but also as a backup generator for home use in case of a disaster like a blackout. The vehicle owner can offset their cost by selling excess energy in their EV to the grid.

For the infrastructure of the grid, V2G technology can supplement the grid stress when the demand is at its peak. During low demands, or when the energy generation is higher, the grid can recharge the EV.

V2N is another type of EV connectivity, and it refers to the ability of the vehicle to connect to the Internet and communicate with anything else on the network. This mostly refers to the vehicle connecting to the internal network and cloud service of its manufacturer. This allows the manufacturer to closely monitor the vehicle, update it dynamically, and thereby, ensure maximum performance.

Companies use V2N connectivity for extracting information related to performance from their vehicles. They gather metrics such as battery charge cycles, energy throughput, and range. With such feedback information from all vehicles connected to the V2N network, EV manufacturers conduct statistical analysis for understanding the real-time operating conditions of their vehicles and improve their performance. V2N-connected vehicles can also receive necessary updates for their software and firmware for introducing performance improvements.

However, V2V connectivity will bring the biggest impact of all these, although, currently it is far from being a reality. This connectivity is the interconnection of all connected vehicles on the road. V2V allows all vehicles to wirelessly communicate between themselves, information like position, speed, road conditions, and other important driving information. V2V-enabled vehicles can also share real-time road and traffic condition information for achieving the optimal path to their destination.

3D Printed PCBs

The world over, electronics manufacturers are facing difficulty with supply disruption. Those struggling with circuit board production are trying out a new and innovative method for solving their problems. They are using 3D printers for making printed circuit boards. Not only are these boards faster to make as compared with traditional production methods, but they are also more versatile. Moreover, this method provides significant cost savings, and it can produce more complex circuits also.

The biggest advantage of 3D printed PCBs is that manufacturers can control their circuit board supply. They can eliminate disruptions from shipping slowdowns, plant shutdowns, or other geopolitical maneuverings. All these have been stretching circuit board supply chains to their breaking point while leaving manufacturers to look for alternatives frantically.

At present, this technology is in its nascent stages and requires more R&D to scale it to large-scale production levels. However, manufacturers are finding 3D printing of producing printed circuit boards in-house a viable alternative for validating iterations and gaining practical intuition that would take a long time by outsourcing fabrication. This is especially helpful in rapid prototyping, small-scale production, and making unique electronic products.

Manufacturers have been making rapid advancements in this technology. They have successfully disrupted traditional methods of PCB manufacturing, thereby accelerating the speed to market for their newer products. For instance, Optomec, a 3D printer manufacturer, claims its semiconductor solution has helped increase 5G signals by 100%.

Whereas traditional methods of fabricating PCBs can take days or weeks to produce, 3D printers can do the job within 30 hours. Another significant factor is design freedom, as compared to the traditional rectangular board, 3D printers can create more complex shapes, including flexible boards, boards with honeycomb structures, and even boards with three-dimensional structures. For some applications, it is possible to use a common desktop printer with conductive filaments.

There are two ways to fabricate printed circuit boards with 3D printers. The first method uses conductive materials to print the circuitry directly. The other makes circuit boards with hollow channels that the user fills with conductive materials.

3D printers construct the printed circuit board entirely through additive manufacturing. This is different from the traditional methods of etching or CNC milling that remove unwanted material to retain conductive traces.

Most 3D printers are capable of handling conductive printing materials. These 3D PCB printers actually lay down a path of conducting material to form the circuitry. These materials may be inks or filaments with conductive particles infused in them. The conductive material may be graphite, copper, or silver. It is also possible to spray these materials as an aerosol-laden stream.

Commercial 3D PCB printers can also use inks as an option. These are similar to 2D printers, and deposit droplets of insulating and conductive inks to build the circuitry. While some printers are capable of printing the entire board including the substrate, others need a prefabricated substrate board. The former can fabricate complex, multi-layered circuit boards that contain embedded components like LEDs, resistors, and inductors. One example of such a 3D printed board is a 10-layer high-performance structure with components on both sides.

Underwater, Battery-less, Wireless Camera

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, engineers have built a wireless camera that does not require a battery to operate underwater. The necessity arose when scientists wanted to observe life under the oceans. They realized they knew less about earth’s oceans than the surface of Mars or the far side of the moon.

An underwater camera must remain tethered to a research vessel for receiving power or sent to a ship periodically to recharge its batteries. This limitation is a big challenge, preventing easy and widespread explorations underwater.

MIT engineers took up the challenge of overcoming the problem. They came up with a camera that does not require batteries, works underwater, and transmits wirelessly. Compared to other underwater cameras, the new camera is more than 1000,000 times more energy-efficient. The device even takes color photos, transmitting them wirelessly through the water.

Sound powers the new autonomous camera—converting the mechanical energy of sound waves into electrical energy for powering its imaging and communications circuitry. After capturing the image, the camera encodes the data and uses underwater waves to transmit it to a receiver for reconstructing the image.

As the camera does not need a rechargeable power source, it can run for a long time before retrieval. This enables scientists to explore remote areas under the ocean. The camera is helpful in capturing images of ocean pollution and monitoring the health and growth of fish.

For a camera that can operate autonomously underwater for long periods, engineers required a mechanism for harvesting underwater energy by itself while using up very little power internally.

The camera uses transducers made of piezoelectric materials that the engineers placed around its exterior. The transducers produce an electrical signal when sound waves hit them. The sound waves may come from any source, such as from marine life or a passing ship. The camera then stores the energy it has harvested, until it has enough for powering its electronics.

The camera has ultra-low-power imaging sensors to keep its power consumption at the lowest possible levels—but these sensors capture only gray-scale images. Moreover, underwater environments are mostly dark, so the camera also needs a low-power flash.

MIT engineers solved both problems simultaneously by using three LEDs of red, blue, and green colors. For capturing an image, the camera first uses the red LED, then repeats the process with a blue LED, and finally with the green LED.

Although each image is black and white, the white part of each photo has the reflection of its respective colored light. Combining the image data during post-processing reconstructs the color image.

The engineers use an underwater backscatter process to transmit the captured image data after encoding it as bits. A nearby receiver transmits sound waves through the water to the camera, reflecting it back just as a mirror would. The camera can choose to either reflect the sound back to the receiver or act as an absorber and not reflect it.

The transmitter has a hydrophone next to it. If it senses a reflected signal from the camera, it treats it as a bit 1. If there is no signal, then it is a bit 0. The receiver uses this binary information for communicating with the camera.

What are Radar Sensors?

Autonomous driving requires the car to have radar sensors as its ears. Originally, the military and avionics developed radar for their applications. Automobiles typically use millimeter wave radar, with a working frequency range of 30-300 GHz, and wavelengths nearer to centimeter waves. These millimeter wave radar offer advantages of photoelectric and microwave guidance to automobiles, because of their significant penetration power.

Automobile collision avoidance mainly uses 24 GHz and 77 GHz radar sensors. In comparison with centimeter wave radar, millimeter-wave radar offers a smaller size, higher spatial resolution, and easier integration. Compared to optical sensors, infrared, and lasers, millimeter wave radar has a significantly stronger ability to penetrate smoke, fog, and dust, along with a good anti-interference ability. Although the millimeter band radar is essential for autonomous driving, heavy rain can significantly reduce the performance of radar sensors, as it produces a large interference. 

Automobiles first used radar sensors in a research project about 40 years ago. Commercial vehicle projects started using radar sensors only in 1998. Initially, they were useful only for adaptive cruise control. Later, radar sensors have developed to provide collision warnings also.

Radar sensors are available in diverse types, and they have a wide range of applications. Automobile applications typically use them as FMCW or frequency-modulated continuous wave radars. FMCW radars measure the air travel time and frequency difference between the transmitted and received signals to provide indirect ranging.

The FMCW radar transmits a frequency-modulated continuous wave. The frequency of this wave changes with time, depending on another triangular wave. After reflection from the object, the echo received by the radar has the same nature of frequency as the emitted wave. However, there is a time difference, and this tiny time difference represents the target distance.

Another radar in common use is the CW Doppler radar sensor. These sensors use the principle of the Doppler effect for measuring the speed of targets at various distances. The radar transmits a microwave signal towards the target, analyzing the frequency change of the reflected signal. The difference between the two frequencies accurately represents the target’s speed relative to the vehicle.

Autonomous vehicles use radar sensors as their basic but critical technical accessories. The radar sensor helps the vehicle to sense objects surrounding it, such as other vehicles, trees, or pedestrians, and determine their relative positions. Then the car can use other sensors to take corresponding measures. Radar sensors provide warnings like front vehicle collisions and the initial adaptive cruise. Vehicles with autopilot radars require more advanced radar sensors such as LIDARs that offer significantly faster response speeds.

Autonomous vehicles must develop technologically. Autonomous driving basically requires an autonomous vehicle to quickly understand and perceive its surrounding environment. This requires the coordination of various sensors, allowing the car to see six directions and hear all. Reliable and decisive driving by an autonomous vehicle requires timely and accurate sensing of roads, other vehicles, pedestrians, and other objects around the vehicle.

Automotive electronics mainly uses radar sensors to avoid forward collisions, sideways collisions, backward collisions, automatic cruises, automatic start and stop, blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, and automatic driving of vehicles.

What are Multilayer Chip Capacitors?

The electronics industry uses various types of capacitors in its circuits. These capacitors provide different capabilities and functionality depending on the type and construction. One of the most prevalent types of capacitors is the MLCC or multilayer ceramic capacitor.

Most MLCCs are applicable to circuits that require small-value capacitance. They are preferably useful as filters, in op-amp circuits, and bypass capacitors. This is because MLCC offers small parasitic inductance as compared to aluminum electrolytic capacitors. Therefore, MLCC offers better stability over temperature, subject to their temperature coefficient.

MLCC is available in three categories or classes. The Class I type of ceramic capacitors offer low losses and high stability in resonant circuits. Although they do not require aging corrections, their volumetric efficiency is low. Class II and Class III offer high volumetric efficiency, but their stability is not as good as that of Class I capacitors. Once outside the referee time of the manufacturer, Class II and Class III capacitors may require aging corrections. Manufacturers specify the referee time during which the capacitor will remain within the tolerance range.

Alternating layers of dielectric ceramic and metallic electrodes make up an MLCC. This structure makes them physically small but does not provide them with volumetric efficiency. Design engineers selecting MLCC for electronic applications look for two important parameters—voltage rating and temperature coefficient.

The voltage rating of the MLCC indicates the maximum safe voltage the circuit can apply across the capacitor terminals. For enhanced reliability, designers use a capacitor with a voltage rating higher than it will experience in the circuit. One advantage over electrolytic capacitors is that MLCCs are non-polarized. Therefore, it is possible to connect MLCC in any position without damage.

The temperature coefficient of an MLCC depends on its Class category. If the capacitor contains Class I ceramic material, it will have a very low-temperature coefficient, which means, a change in temperature will minimally affect the capacitance. Class I MLCC also tends to have low dielectric constants, which means the material offers very small capacitance per volume. For instance, C0G and NP0 type Class I MLCC feature a 0 temperature coefficient with a tolerance of ±30 ppm.

Class II MLCC, although less stable over temperature, contains ceramic material with a higher dielectric constant. That means Class II MLCC can have more capacitance in the same volume compared to that of Class I. Class II MLCC are available in X, Y, and Z temperature coefficients. For instance, X7R is a common Class II MLCC, and can operate within a temperature range of -55 °C and +125 °C with a tolerance of ±15%. X5R MLCC can operate within a temperature range of -55 °C and +85 °C with a tolerance of ±15%. Y5V MLCC can operate within a temperature range of -30 °C and +85 °C with a tolerance of +22/-82%. MLCCs with wider temperature ranges are also available with the higher stability of temperature characteristics. However, these capacitors tend to cost more.

Engineers use several capacitors with various values in parallel or series for providing the requisite impedance over a wide range of frequencies.

Three-Phase Monitor Relays Protect Expensive Machinery

Three-phase motors power many industrial and commercial machines. One can find these machines in material handling, water treatment, air conditioning systems, ventilation, heating, marine, machine tools, and aviation applications. However, a range of fault conditions can damage these reliable devices when not addressed quickly. This can lead to a shortened operating lifetime or even a failure, resulting in significant repair costs and downtime.

Phase monitoring relays can detect these faults, notify the operators, and stop the machinery before it develops permanent damage. These relays detect the presence of all three phases, their correct sequence, and that all phase voltages are within the specified range. Should an error develop, the relay opens a set of contacts, initiating an alarm condition, and powers down the machine. There are many types of phase-sensing relays. They can handle a wide range of phase configurations, voltages, and errors.

Among the common failure modes of three-phase motors, are those related to their three-phase power source and their effects on the motor. An imbalance in the phase voltages, or a loss in one of the three phases, can result in the remaining phases driving higher-than-normal currents into the motor. This can lead to a loss of rotational power and excessive vibrations. Likewise, over-voltages and under-voltages can force the motor to draw excess current for driving the same load, and this can shorten the life of the motor. An incorrect phase sequence may cause the motor to reverse the direction of rotation. This can have significantly disastrous results on the load connected to the motor.

Phase monitoring relays monitor the state of the three-phase power source. The three-phase lines that they monitor also power them. Apart from the phase sequence, they also monitor the loss of any phase voltage. Only when all the phases are present, and are in the correct sequence, do the relays activate. Whenever there is a loss of any phase, or the phase sequence is incorrect, the relays de-energize.

Some phase monitoring relays also have the capability to monitor the voltage levels of all three phases. This typically uses a true root-mean-square measurement. The relay deactivates whenever the voltage drops below a preset threshold. Some relays also offer adjustable limit settings along with voltage detection. Other relays monitor phase asymmetry along with tolerance. Typically, phase monitoring relays offer a delay before actuation. This prevents spurious activation from temporary voltage levels or asymmetry issues. In some models, the delay is adjustable.

The DPA01CM44 is an example of a three-phase monitoring relay meant for three-wire configurations. The three-phase source powers the relay. Relay models available operate at voltages of 208, 230, 400, 600, and 690 VAC. Although relays for mounting on DIN rails are typical, plugin models are also available. The relay output configuration can be single or dual SPDT contacts.

Normal voltage and phase conditions allow the relay to remain activated. That means, the normally open contacts of the relay output remain closed. Abnormal conditions make the relay operate within 100 milliseconds. The front panel on the relay has status LEDs to indicate relay activation and power on.

What is Capacitance to Digital Converter Technology?

The healthcare industry has witnessed many advancements, innovations, and improvements in electronic technology in recent years. Healthcare equipment faced challenges like developing new treatment methods and diagnoses, home healthcare, remote monitoring, enhancing flexibility, improving quality and reliability, and improving ease of use.

A comprehensive portfolio of these technologies includes digital signal processing, MEMS, mixed-signal, and linear technologies that have helped to make a difference in healthcare instrumentation in areas such as patient monitoring and imaging. Another is the capacitance to digital converter technology that offers the use of highly sensitive capacitance sensing in healthcare applications. For instance, a capacitive touch sensor is a novel user input method that can be in the form of a slider bar, a push button, a scroll wheel, or other similar forms.

In a typical touch sensor layout, a printed circuit board may have a geometric area representing a sensor electrode. This area forms one plate of a virtual capacitor, while the user’s finger forms the other plate. For this system to work, the user must essentially be grounded with respect to the sensor electrode.

Analog Devices has designed their CapTouch controller family of ICs, the AD7147/ AD7148, to activate and interface with capacitance touch sensors. The controller ICs measure capacitance changes from single-electrode sensors by generating excitation signals to charge the plate of the capacitor. When another object, like the user’s finger, approaches the sensor, it creates a virtual capacitance, with the user acting as the second plate of the capacitor. A CDC or capacitance to digital converter in the ICs measures the change in capacitance.

The CDC can measure changes in the capacitance of the external sensors and uses this information to activate a sensor. The AD7147 has 13 capacitance sensor inputs, while the AD7148 has eight. Both have on-chip calibration logic for compensating for measurement changes due to temperature and humidity variations in the ambient environment, thereby ensuring no false alarms from such changes.

Both CDCs offer many operational modes, very flexible control features, and user-programmable conversion sequences. With these features, the CDCs are highly suitable for touch sensors of high resolution, acting as scroll wheels or slider bars, requiring minimum software support. Likewise, no software support is necessary for implementing button-sensor applications with on-chip digital logic.

The CDCs function by applying an excitation signal to one plate of the virtual capacitor, while measuring the charge stored in it. They also make the digital result available to the external host. The CDCs can differentiate four types of capacitance sensors by changing the way they apply the excitation.

By varying the values of these parameters, and/or observing the variations in their values, the CDC technology directly measures the capacitance values. The distance between the two electrodes affects the output of the CDCs in inverse proportions.

The family of Analog Device CDCs, the AD714x, AD715x, and AD774x, are suitable for applications involving a wide range of functions. These involve various input sensor types, input ranges, resolutions, and sample rates. Applications involve liquid level monitoring, sweat detection, respiratory rate measurement, blood pressure measurement, and more.

Space Saving Molex Connectors

With manufacturing processes and semiconductor materials going through new developments at break-neck speeds, we now have a proliferation of increasingly smaller sensors, devices, and processors. However, some areas are still facing hindrances in technological advancements because of space limitations, thereby slowing down user adoption.

One such area is the AR/VR or augmented- and virtual reality applications. These technologies, typically AR, superimpose an image over a view of the user’s actual environment. A handheld device can accomplish this, such as a smartphone. Others can be user-worn glasses, headsets, or a projection such as heads-up displays in vehicles.

AR technology commonly includes offering information about the environment around the user, for gaming or for safety reasons. On the other hand, VR technology immerses the user in a virtual environment. That means, VR implementation typically requires the use of a headset, completely covering the user’s eyes, thereby blocking out the world around them.

However, the adoption of AR and VR has so far been limited, and these have remained relatively niche markets. The primary reason for this is their footprint. For instance, AR use requires wearing bulky glasses, lenses, or headwear, or, holding the smartphone up to view the AR environment. Wearing such heavy, unbecoming devices for any duration can be very uncomfortable.

For engineers, the size of connectors has been one of the biggest challenges when they try to limit the size of devices for embedded and wearable systems. Although semiconductor sizes have progressively reduced, communication devices have stayed the same. Therefore, even with custom cabling, the cable size and its corresponding connector are the factors limiting the system size.

For the success of AR and VR solutions, it is necessary for their form factor to be small, comfortable, and lightweight for the user. These technologies also demand significant processing power as well as high-quality displays. Meeting this demand requires design engineers to use connectors that offer not only robust communication capabilities, but also minimize the weight and footprint.

Molex is now offering a quad-row connector that meets the above needs. The package is significantly smaller than those available in the market while offering many connectivity options.

The quad-row connector from Molex offers its performance gains because of its staggered-circuit layout that offers a 30% space-saving over the design of its competitors. The quad-row connector achieves this as it positions its pins across four rows with a pitch of 0.175 mm. Such a staggered-circuit layout is a substantial space-saver in many applications involving wearable, smartphones, smartwatches, and AR and VR devices.

According to Molex, users can also have a soldering pitch of 0.35 mm in the quad-row connectors. This matches with the standard surface-mount technology processes. That means that as electronic devices gain popularity and size reduction, manufacturers can scale their products by shifting to the 0.175 mm soldering pitch. These connectors from Molex can also integrate into moving objects, and withstand drops, vibrations, and other harsh conditions of use. Molex builds its quad-row connectors with interior armor and insert-molded power nails, making them substantially reliable and robust. The connectors are available in 32- and 36-pin varieties, with 64-pin configurations for the future.