Power Electronics

Passive Component Special Report

Although passive components may be the “Rodney Dangerfield” of electronic systems, they are a necessary ingredient of virtually all electronic systems. It sometimes appears that very little changes with passive technologies, but that is not the case. The following passive component subjects are detailed in this special report, which reflects some of the recent developments.

  • The cost of palladium used for multilayer ceramic capacitor (MLCC) electrodes has risen over the last few years to the point where manufacturers are looking at alternative materials. In one approach, base metal electrode (BME) technology replaces the precious metal electrodes.

  • Tantalum is in short supply, but niobium, which has similar capabilities, is plentiful. Some niobium characteristics have prevented performance comparable to tantalum capacitors. However, a new manufacturing technique now yields solid niobium capacitors comparable to tantalum.

  • Meeting the need for low ESR capacitors are the new multilayer polymer (MLP) types. Aluminum polymer or “organic polymer” capacitors are electrolytic capacitors, whereas pure polymer capacitors are electrostatic types consisting of thin film layers of polymer-based dielectric material with vapor-deposited metal electrode plates.

  • Among the newer types of capacitors are supercapacitors, ultracapacitors, and electrochemical double layer capacitors (EDLC). One type uses aerogel carbon as its active material, while the industry standard is activated carbon. For a given capacitance, these capacitors are between 2000 to 5000 times smaller than electrolytic capacitors.

  • Advancements in thin film technology provide a discrete chip resistor with an ultraminiature footprint, tight tolerances, and excellent temperature characteristics. In addition, thin-film resistor arrays offer a significant improvement in insertion costs for OEMs.

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