June 04, 2024 Volume 20 Issue 21

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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Raspberry Pi launches $70 AI Kit

Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage, and the makers of Raspberry Pi have created a way for enthusiasts of the single-board computer systems to take part and do a lot of experimenting along the way.
Read the full article.

3D model sharing at Brother Industries cuts rework

When Brother Industries, maker of printers, computers, and computer-related electronics, deployed Lattice Technology's XVL Player as a viewer for sharing 3D models throughout the processes of product design, parts design, mold design, mold production, and QA of molded parts, they reduced rework significantly -- especially from downstream departments. XVL Studio with its Difference Check Option helped address the rework in mold design, for example, by always keeping everyone informed of design changes.
Read this real-world case study.

What is 3D-MID? Molded parts with integrated electronics from HARTING

3D-MID (three-dimensional mechatronic integrated devices) technology combines electronic and mechanical functionalities into a single, 3D component. It replaces the traditional printed circuit board and opens up many new opportunities. It takes injection-molded parts and uses laser-direct structuring to etch areas of conductor structures, which are filled with a copper plating process to create very precise electronic circuits. HARTING, the technology's developer, says it's "Like a PCB, but 3D." Tons of possibilities.
Learn more (video included on page).

New! Thermoelectric dehumidifiers for enclosures

Seifert Systems has just introduced its line of compact Soliflex® Series thermoelectric dehumidifiers, with or without condensate pump. These IP 56-rated units are designed to dehumidify enclosures and small control panels, can be used indoors or outdoors, and are maintenance free. When used with a hygrostat, Soliflex dehumidifiers will keep enclosure humidity below a defined level and only operate when needed.
Learn more.

More Stego enclosure heater options from AutomationDirect

Automation-Direct has added more Stego enclosure heaters to their Enclosure Thermal Management lineup. These new 120 to 240 VAC/VDC units include small, flat versions that distribute heat evenly within compact enclosures and are available with 8- or 10-W heating capacities. Also added are compact loop heaters that feature a patented loop body design for increased natural convection airflow, reduced thermal stress on the heater, and better heat transfer. Loop heaters are available in 10- to 150-W heating capacities.
Learn more.

Great design: Handle with integrated lighting/signaling

Signaling and indicator lights, switches, and buttons -- elements that hardly any machine can do without. The new JW Winco cabinet U-handle EN 6284 integrates all these functions into a single, compact element. The new U-handle is designed to enhance the operation of systems and machines. It features an integrated button and a large, colored, backlit area on the back of the handle. These elements can be used individually or in combination, providing a versatile tool for system control and process monitoring that can be seen from across the room.
Learn more.

Engineer's Toolbox: What is ground loop feedback?

Improper grounding can create problems in data logging, data acquisition, and measurement and control systems. One of the most common problems is known as ground loop feedback. Experts at CAS DataLoggers run through five ways to eliminate this problem.
Read the full article.

AI development kit for multi-camera products

The QCS6490 Vision-AI Development Kit from Avnet enables engineering teams to rapidly prototype hardware, application software, and AI enablement for multi-camera, high-performance, Edge AI-enabled custom embedded products. The kit facilitates design with the new, energy-efficient MSC SM2S-QCS6490 SMARC compute module based on the Qualcomm QCS6490 processor. Provides support for up to four MIPI CSI cameras and concurrent Mini DisplayPort and MIPI DSI displays.
Learn more.

High-temp cabinet cooler keeps incineration process in business

An EXAIR client company handles waste treatment on a large ship by operating an incinerator. The area where the incinerator is located gets very hot (over 120° F). This causes failures in the electronics package used to control the incineration process. Since compressed air is readily available, EXAIR's Model HT4225 Cabinet Cooler System is being used to keep the panel cool. It saved the customer from having to replace their control units due to the hot conditions in the incinerator room. Thermostat control is also available, conserving air and operating only when needed to minimize air consumption.
Learn about EXAIR's huge selection of Cabinet Coolers.

Compact snap-in capacitors for general-purpose applications

TDK's new EPCOS B43659 series of snap-in aluminum electrolytic capacitors is the next generation of ultra-compact, general-purpose components for voltages of 450 V (DC) featuring an extremely high CV product. It provides the same features and serves the same applications as the previous series but is much more compact. These RoHS-compliant capacitors can be used in a wide range of applications, such as switched-mode power supplies, frequency converters, UPS, medical equipment, and solar inverters.
Get all the specs.

Conductive Brush Ring overcomes current leakage in EV powertrains

SKF's new Conductive Brush Ring paves the way to greater reliability and longer life in high-performance electric vehicle powertrain systems. Using pure carbon fiber bristles, it provides a reliable electrical connection between an EV eAxle rotor shaft and its housing. When used in combination with SKF Hybrid ceramic ball bearings, it helps to alleviate parasitic current effects that can lead to premature failure in bearings and other components. Available in different configurations for wet (oil-lubricated) motor designs -- and soon for dry (sealed) applications.
Learn more.

Intro to reed switches, magnets, magnetic fields

This brief introductory video on the DigiKey site offers tips for engineers designing with reed switches. Dr. Stephen Day, Ph.D. from Coto Technology gives a solid overview on reed switches -- complete with real-world application examples -- and a detailed explanation of how they react to magnetic fields.
View the video.

Bi-color LEDs to light up your designs

Created with engineers and OEMs in mind, SpectraBright Series SMD RGB and Bi-Color LEDs from Visual Communi-cations Company (VCC) deliver efficiency, design flexibility, and control for devices in a range of industries, including mil-aero, automated guided vehicles, EV charging stations, industrial, telecom, IoT/smart home, and medical. These 50,000-hr bi-color and RGB options save money and space on the HMI, communicating two or three operating modes in a single component.
Learn more.

All about slip rings: How they work and their uses

Rotary Systems has put together a really nice basic primer on slip rings -- electrical collectors that carry a current from a stationary wire into a rotating device. Common uses are for power, proximity switches, strain gauges, video, and Ethernet signal transmission. This introduction also covers how to specify, assembly types, and interface requirements. Rotary Systems also manufactures rotary unions for fluid applications.
Read the overview.

Seifert thermoelectric coolers from AutomationDirect

Automation-Direct has added new high-quality and efficient stainless steel Seifert 340 BTU/H thermoelectric coolers with 120-V and 230-V power options. Thermoelectric coolers from Seifert use the Peltier Effect to create a temperature difference between the internal and ambient heat sinks, making internal air cooler while dissipating heat into the external environment. Fans assist the convective heat transfer from the heat sinks, which are optimized for maximum flow.
Learn more.

World's thinnest lens is only 3 atoms thick, makes use of Fresnel tech

The thinnest lens on Earth, made of concentric rings of a tungsten material, uses excitons to efficiently focus light. The lens is just three atoms thick. The bottom left shows an exciton: an excited electron bound to the positively charged "hole" in the atomic lattice. [Credit: Image by Ludovica Guarneri and Thomas Bauer]





Lenses are used to bend and focus light. Normal lenses rely on their curved shape to achieve this effect, but physicists from the University of Amsterdam and Stanford University have made a flat lens of only three atoms thick that relies on quantum effects. This type of lens could be used in future augmented reality glasses, among other applications.

When you imagine a lens, you probably picture a piece of curved glass. This type of lens works because light is refracted (bent) when it enters the glass and again when it exits, allowing viewers to see things that appear larger or closer than they are. Curved lenses have been used for more than two millennia, allowing us to study the movements of distant planets and stars, to reveal tiny microorganisms, and to improve our vision.

Ludovico Guarneri, Thomas Bauer, and Jorik van de Groep of the University of Amsterdam, together with colleagues from Stanford University in California, took a different approach. Using a single layer of a unique material called tungsten disulphide (WS2 for short), they constructed a flat lens that is 0.5 mm wide but just 0.0000006 mm (or 0.6 nanometers) thick. This makes it the thinnest lens on Earth.

Rather than relying on a curved shape, the lens is made of concentric rings of WS2 with gaps in between. This is called a Fresnel (or a zone plate) lens, and it focuses light using diffraction rather than refraction. The size of, and distance between, the rings (compared to the wavelength of the light hitting it) determines the focal length of the lens. The design used here focuses red light 1 mm from the lens.

Quantum enhancement
A unique feature of this lens is that its focusing efficiency relies on quantum effects within WS2. These effects allow the material to efficiently absorb and re-emit light at specific wavelengths, giving the lens the built-in ability to work better for these wavelengths.

This quantum enhancement works as follows. First, WS2 absorbs light by sending an electron to a higher energy level. Due to the ultra-thin structure of the material, the negatively charged electron and the positively charged "hole" it leaves behind in the atomic lattice stay bound together by the electrostatic attraction between them, forming what is known as an "exciton." These excitons quickly disappear again by the electron and hole merging together and sending out light. This re-emitted light contributes to the efficiency of the lens.

The scientists detected a clear peak in lens efficiency for the specific wavelengths of light sent out by the excitons. While the effect is already observed at room temperature, the lenses are even more efficient when cooled down. This is because excitons do their work better at lower temperatures.

Augmented reality
Another unique feature of the lens is that while some of the light passing through it makes a bright focal point, most light passes through unaffected. While this may sound like a disadvantage, it actually opens new doors for use in technology of the future.

"The lens can be used in applications where the view through the lens should not be disturbed, but a small part of the light can be tapped to collect information. This makes it perfect for wearable glasses such as for augmented reality," says Jorik van de Groep, one of the authors of a paper on the research.

The researchers are now setting their sights on designing and testing more complex and multifunctional optical coatings whose function (such as focusing light) can be adjusted electrically. "Excitons are very sensitive to the charge density in the material, and therefore we can change the refractive index of the material by applying a voltage," says Van de Groep. The future of excitonic materials is bright.

See "Temperature-Dependent Excitonic Light Manipulation with Atomically Thin Optical Elements" in Nano Letters.

Source: University of Amsterdam

Published June 2024

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