Automotive electronics advances usher in a greater need for circuit protection

ProTek Devices’ VP Pai contributed an article to ECN. The article was featured Jan. 20, 2014. Start reading the article below…

Every year, the automotive industry introduces more features that leverage advanced electronics. Many of these new electronics features are marketed for occupant safety, entertainment and conveniences. Vehicles are introduced with systems for blind spot warnings, lane departure warnings, accident warnings, parking assistance, and much more. This is in addition to established electronics systems – stereos, navigation, LCD displays, and critical basic control and power systems. It is more important than ever to protect the circuitry of these advanced automotive electronics systems. Providing proper circuit protection helps ensure safety while reducing warranty and service related costs for manufacturers.

The Automotive Electronics Council (AEC-Q101) provides standards for automotive circuit protection. This includes: AEC-Q101-001 (electrostatic discharge [ESD] test – human body model); AEC-Q101-002 (ESD test – machine model); AEC-Q101-003 (wire bond shear test); AEC-Q101-004 (miscellaneous test methods such as unclamped inductive switching, dielectric integrity, and destructive physical analysis); and AEC-Q101-005 (ESD test – capacitive discharge model).

Using these standards, circuit protection component manufacturers can provide solutions to prevent circuits from damage by unexpected electrical fast transients (EFT). There are many critical automotive systems requiring protection. The information / entertainment network system includes high speed optical network information. This system provides traffic and other information, the vehicle communications link, video and audio, etc. The body network includes a low-speed multiplex network for data body messages and switches. This typically covers displays, lighting, power features, HAVC, etc. The chassis network typically consists of a proprietary OEM network for safety-critical systems. This includes steering control, powertrain, chassis control, ABS brakes, etc. Finally, the power network system is made of a power distribution network of 14/42 volts. This covers fusing, junction boxes, the main power, wheelhouse (W/H), etc.

There are various typical electrical transients that occur inside these automotive environments, which vary in frequency of occurrence, duration time, and more. For this reason, circuits within automotive electronic systems require circuit protection components designed specifically for the likely electrical transient event. Transient voltage suppressor (TVS) diodes have long been used and proven effective for automotive circuit protection.

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