November 06, 2018 Volume 14 Issue 41

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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Engineer's Toolbox: How to choose the right relay

Relays come in a variety of form factors, styles, and technologies. Depending on your application, only one relay type may be suitable. In other cases, multiple relay types may be appropriate. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the different relays, you should be able to pick the one that is best suited for the job at hand. National Instruments lays out the options.
Read the full article.


Cool Tools: New Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

Fans of the extremely popular credit card-sized computer called Raspberry Pi have something new to celebrate. The line of highly customizable base units has expanded with the third-gen A+ board, which brings the latest features and capabilities to a more compact form factor and lower price point -- only 25 bucks (and we have seen this on sale for under 20)!
Read the full article.


Vandal-resistant sealed switches

C&K has just launched its ATP19 and ATP22 series anti-vandal sealed pushbutton switches. The new high-strength, lightweight switches are IP67/IK10 rated, ensuring their suitability for operation in harsh conditions and ability to withstand potential malicious damage. The switches are also corrosion resistant and offer the industry-standard ring-illuminated version in 19-mm and 22-mm diameters.
Learn more.


New inductive-technology position sensors

Novotechnik's TF1 Series touchless linear position sensors overcome issues with legacy magnetostrictive technology. They are unaffected by strong magnetic fields and metal flakes or filings present in a user's environment. The TF1 Series consists of an inductively coupled position marker attached to a moving rod/piece of the user's application that requires a position measurement and the sensor with operational and programming status LEDs. While operating, LEDs indicate whether the sensor is operating and the marker within measuring range or out of range, as well as indicating results of internal diagnostics for valid output from the sensor. Can also measure speed and temperature.
Learn more.


Sensor development kit for power-optimized IoT applications

The RSL10 Sensor Development Kit from ON Semiconductor is designed to provide engineering teams with a comprehensive platform for developing IoT applications with cutting-edge smart sensor technology, enabled by the industry's lowest power Bluetooth Low Energy radio. The kit brings together the highly integrated RSL10 System-in-Package (RSL10 SIP) with a range of advanced low-power sensors from Bosch Sensortec. The development platform provides nine degrees of freedom (DoF) detection and environmental monitoring, including ambient light, volatile organic compounds (VOC), pressure, relative humidity, and temperature. An ultra-low noise digital microphone is also included, along with a user-programmable RGB LED, three programmable push-button switches, and 64 kb of EEPROM. Using the RSL10 Sense and Control mobile application, developers can connect to the RSL10 Sensor Development Kit to monitor sensors and to evaluate the kit's features. The app also supports multiple commercial cloud platforms for uploading sensor data.
Learn more.


EC fans offer spark-proof IP68-ATEX protection for harsh AC applications

Orion Fans has expanded its family of Electronically Commutated (EC) fans to include spark-proof IP68-ATEX-rated versions for applications involving explosive atmospheres or flammable gases. Implementing IP68-ATEX fans into a design decreases the possibility of an explosion or fire. Available in a range of sizes including 60 mm, 120 mm, and 172 mm, the EC IP68-ATEX fans are ideal for a broad range of applications including appliances, commercial and process control, refrigeration, HVAC, electronic enclosures, and cabinets. By maintaining the same interface between the fan and equipment, EC fans can be used as drop-in replacements for equivalent-sized AC fans. The AC input fans utilize a brushless DC motor and incorporate voltage transformation within the motor for significantly lower power consumption. This equates to power savings of up to 50 percent.
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Cable assemblies for demanding microwave and RF applications

Intelliconnect has expanded its cable assembly offering for high-frequency and mission-critical applications. Comprised of high-quality cables, connectors, and terminations, the highly reliable RF cable assembly product offering now includes Low Loss, Semi-Rigid, Semi-Flex, and Conformable versions. The microwave and RF cable assembly line is designed for a wide range of applications including marine, medical, mil/aero, microwave communications, oil and gas, rail traction, test and measurement, and more. Available in a variety of sizes and performance specs, these assemblies operate up to 70 GHz and beyond and can be armored internally or externally. Phase matching is also available. Assemblies can be specified as matched sets or built to a specified phase length.
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How electronic flow sensors help spread road salt

Salt spreading trucks use a pre-wetting system when ice needs to be removed from roads and the temperatures are too low for direct salt spreading to work. The system sprays salt water onto the road salt as it is being spread to "jump start" the melting process. But how do you monitor the amount of pre-wet salt used?
Read this short, informative blog from Gems Sensors & Controls.


Bend the rules of lighting design: Cut and form LED sheets

VCC is bending the rules of lighting design with its new VentoFlex tiles. The VentoFlex modular lighting system opens up countless ways for architects and lighting designers to make an impact. Available in 12-in. x 12-in. sheets, these innovative LED tiles can be cut and formed around any design element, including rounded corners and tight spaces, without taking up much room at all -- just 0.15 in. (3.81 mm). A pair of scissors is the only tool required to cut VentoFlex tiles to the size and shape you desire. Ten or 15 tiles can be linked together to one driver and dimmer to create thousands of square inches of versatile lighting power!
Learn more about this new and exciting lighting technology.


Slip rings improve Ethernet transmission

The Kuebler Group offers contact and contactless slip rings for reliable Ethernet transmission, achieving higher data rates and greater cycle synchronicity in demanding industrial environments. Application examples include industrial automation, bottling plants, labeling machines, rotary tables, and other processes requiring high transmission rates. The standard Slip Ring SR120 features an innovative three-chamber system and shield to enable parallel, interference-free Ethernet transmission up to 100 Mbps. It boasts a long service life up to 500 million revolutions and a rugged, modular structure that can be expanded up to 20 channels. Another model, the Slip Ring SR160 with integrated Sendix Encoder, provides position information in addition to contactless Ethernet transmission -- either two channels at 100 Mbps multiplexed or one channel at 1 Gbps.
Learn more.


How to convert from hydraulic to electric high-force linear actuators

Machine designers are converting existing linear motion systems from hydraulic to electric due to the technology's many benefits, but the process involves considering the actual force output of the cylinder, the duty cycle, and the motion profile. Specialists at Tolomatic tackle these points. Includes a very informative video.
Read the Tolomatic blog.


Integrate Alexa and more into your product or project

The MATRIX Voice Development Kit from MATRIX Labs aims to lower the barriers to entry for the creation and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) voice applications. This platform enables users to develop voice recognition and detection projects that utilize Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa -- or any other voice recognition API. This open-source platform for the Raspberry Pi consists of a 3.14-in.-diameter development board, a radial array of 7 MEMS microphones, a Xilinx Spartan6 FPGA with 64 Mbit SDRAM, 18 RGBW LEDs, and 64 GPIO pins. It can also be used as a standalone device with the ESP32. Available from Newark element14.
Learn more from MATRIX Labs.
See purchase options from Newark element14.


Cool Tools: New Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+

Newark element14 is now shipping the new Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ for same-day dispatch. Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ delivers the enhanced thermal performance and ease of use of Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ in a smaller form factor, with a choice of memory variants suitable for a broad range of embedded applications including IoT devices and industrial automation, monitoring, and control systems. Compute Module 3+ simplifies the design process engineers need to undertake when developing a System on Module (SoM) solution into their final product. Engineers do not need to concern themselves with the complexities of interfacing with the BCM2837B0 processer directly and instead can concentrate on designing the interfaces to their own IO board and their application software -- simplicity that fosters rapid development.
Learn more.


360-degree static eliminator is CE, UL, and RoHS certified

EXAIR's new Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipe provides a uniform 360-degree ionized airstream that clamps around a continuously moving part to eliminate static electricity and contaminants. It is ideal for removing dust, particulates, and personnel shocks on pipe, cable, extruded shapes, hose, wire, and more. This engineered product has undergone independent lab tests to certify it meets the rigorous safety, health, and environmental standards to attain the CE and UL marks. It is also RoHS compliant. New design features include a metal armored high-voltage cable to protect against abrasion and cuts, a replaceable emitter point, integrated ground connection, and electromagnetic shielding.
Learn more.


20-in. automotive touchscreens enabled by new controllers

With cars like the Tesla Model S featuring 17-in. touchscreens, the trend in automotive displays is to go bigger and bigger. But unlike handheld mobile devices, screens in automobiles need to meet stringent head impact and vibration tests, so they have thicker cover lenses that potentially affect the touch interface performance. As screens get larger, they are also more likely to interfere with other frequencies and car access systems. These factors pose a major challenge in the design of modern automotive capacitive touch systems, but a new family of single-chip maXTouch touchscreen controllers from Microchip Technology was designed to address these issues.
Learn more.


Next-gen data storage: Researchers switch material from one state to another with a single flash of light

Intensity patterns recorded with SLAC's "electron camera" showed researchers how the atomic structure of a tantalum disulfide crystal responded to laser flashes, switching from an alpha state (left) to an alpha/beta state (right) and back. The intensity patterns were used to reconstruct the atomic structure.

 

 

 

 

By Manuel Gnida, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Scientists from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have demonstrated a surprisingly simple way of flipping a material from one state into another, and then back again, with single flashes of laser light.

This switching behavior is similar to what happens in magnetic data storage materials, and making the switch with laser light could offer a new way to read and write information in next-generation data storage devices, among other unprecedented applications, says Nuh Gedik, the study's principal investigator at MIT. The team reported their results in Science Advances.

Single pulses of laser light were used to switch tantalum disulfide from one state to another and back again. Clockwise from left: A single light pulse turns the material from its initial, alpha state (red) into a mixture of alpha and beta (blue) states separated by domain walls (right). A second light pulse dissolves the domain walls, and the material returns to its original state. Switches like this could potentially lead to the development of new types of data storage devices.

 

 

 

 

Frozen waves of electrons
In today's devices, information is stored and retrieved by flipping the spin of electrons with a magnetic field. "But here we flipped a different material property known as charge density waves," says Alfred Zong, a graduate student in Gedik's group and one of the study's lead authors.

Charge density waves are periodic peaks and valleys in the way electrons are distributed in a material. They are motionless, like icy waves on a frozen lake. Scientists want to learn more about these waves because they often coexist with other interesting material properties, such as the ability to conduct electricity without loss at relatively high temperatures, and could potentially be related to those properties.

The new study focused on tantalum disulfide, a material with charge density waves that are all oriented in the same direction in what's called the alpha state. When the researchers zapped a thin crystal of the material with a very brief laser pulse, some of the waves flipped into a beta state with a different electron orientation, and the alpha and beta regions were separated by domain walls. A second flash of light dissolved the domain walls and returned the material to its pure alpha state.

This transmission electron microscopy image shows a domain wall (marked with yellow circles) between two different states, alpha (red area) and beta (blue area), in a tantalum disulfide crystal. The beta state and domain wall formed after the crystal was hit with a single light pulse.

 

 

 

 

Surprising material switch
These changes in the material, which had never been seen before, were detected with SLAC's instrument for ultrafast electron diffraction (UED), a high-speed "electron camera" that probes the motions of a material's atomic structure with a powerful beam of very energetic electrons.

"We were looking for other effects in our experiment, so we were taken by complete surprise when we saw that we can write and erase domain walls with single light pulses," says Xijie Wang, head of SLAC's UED group.

Anshul Kogar, a postdoctoral researcher in Gedik's group, says, "The domain walls are a particularly interesting feature because they have properties that differ from the rest of the material." For example, they might play a role in the drastic change seen in tantalum disulfide's electrical resistance when it's exposed to ultrashort light pulses, which was previously observed by another group.

SLAC staff scientist Xiaozhe Shen, one of the study's lead authors on Wang's team, says, "UED allowed us to analyze in detail how the domains formed over time, how large they were, and how they were distributed in the material."

The researchers also found that they can fine-tune the process by adjusting the temperature of the crystal and the energy of the light pulse, giving them control over the material switch. In a next step, the team wants to gain even more control, for example by shaping the light pulse in a way that it allows generating particular domain patterns in the material.

"The fact that we can tune a material in a very simple manner seems very fundamental," Wang says. "So fundamental, in fact, that it could turn out to be an important step toward using light in creating the exact material properties we want."

Additional contributions to this study came from Harvard University. The project was funded by the DOE Office of Science and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

SLAC is a multi-program laboratory operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Published November 2018

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