Today’s automobile has come a long way since the 1970s when the engine control unit (ECU) – also known as the power control module (PCM) – was first put into play. According to a recent New York Times article, modern cars now have from 30 to 100 microprocessor-controlled devices (ECUs) within. They have long been used to control everything from critical safety systems like brakes and airbags. They’ve also been used to control convenience features like telematics and navigation. More and more automobiles come equipped with more and more advanced electronic control systems. And, they’re not just being added as features but, also as requirements. For example, direct tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are now required on all new cars sold in the EU. In turn, this requires the integration of ever more integrated circuits (IC). Newer systems now include all types of comfort systems, such as for heated / cooled seats. They also include all types of safety systems, such as for advanced driver assistance systems with features such as collision avoidance and parking assist.
Automotive manufacturers continue to turn to IC-based systems for new features and capabilities. With this trend, the need for more circuit protection for these systems also grows alongside. Since automotive engineers need circuit protection components, we’ve put together a simple-to-use poster to illustrate ProTek Devices many circuit protection components available for automotive manufacturers.
As noted, there are dozens of applications that need circuit protection. They include USB ports, Ethernet ports, CANBus lines, LINBus, antenna, display interfaces, power systems, fuel injection management systems, and many more. Electrical transients present a top critical risk to damaging these systems. Electrical transients also increase servicing and warranty costs for auto manufacturers. Therefore, proper circuit protection is an important factor of any automotive design process.
Recognizing the threat of electrical fast transients to critical automotive systems, the Automotive Electronics Council (AEC-Q101) provides a discrete semiconductor qualification standard for automotive applications. The AEC-Q101 standard refers to automotive circuit protection standards: 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).
Other automotive test standards, such as ISO7637-2, refer to Pulse 5 (load dump pulse) designed to simulate when a load to which a generator is delivering current is abruptly disconnected. In automotive electronics, this applies to disconnecting a battery while it is being charged by the alternator. Signal levels can be as high as 174 V and may take up to 400 ms to decay. This leads to a requirement for overvoltage protection solutions.
ProTek Devices has long provided qualified standards-based circuit protection components that are widely used to protect popular automotive systems. The automotive product line largely consists of a modern comprehensive family of ultra-low capacitance transient voltage suppressor arrays (TVS array). These components cover just about any automotive circuit protection needs: infotainment, lighting, drivetrain, chassis / safety, body, and more. If you need comprehensive details on ProTek Devices’ solutions, you can also download a complete brochure for the company’s automotive circuit protection family of devices.