Along with the demand for portability and increasing speed in technology, electronics are becoming more sensitive. Everything must fit into progressively more compact footprints and is expected to provide along service life. This means that circuit protection is not a luxury add-on or one-size-fits-all step in a power electronics design. Rather, it has become an area that requires attention and frequent customization to meet the reliability and safety requirements electronic system power ports demand.
Semiconductor companies that offer controllers, processors, memory, and other integrated circuit products use a variety of Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) technologies in their circuit protection devices. In contrast, Bourns employs bipolar semiconductor technology to produce robust and reliable protection devices. Bourns has been a leader in circuit protection for decades. In addition to the company’s deep technical knowledge, Bourns continuously invests in the company’s bipolar components portfolio adding innovative features and new device options. The bipolar technology advancements Bourns has made increases the speed and energy handling capabilities of the company’s bipolar devices making them excellent circuit protection solutions that can be applied across numerous applications.
The Case for Using PTVS Diodes
A pertinent example of bipolar technology is the power transient voltage suppression (PTVS) diode, which is designed to protect sensitive equipment from high voltage transient events. This is accomplished by clamping the incoming voltage to safe levels while absorbing excess energy. Typical threats to power ports include load switching transients and nearby lightning strikes. When the equipment is located outdoors, the power lines can act as antennae, collecting large amounts of transient energy. Equipment located in rural areas or mounted high on buildings or poles is difficult or expensive to access. Therefore, repair costs often are dominated by the labor required rather than the value of the equipment being replaced. Because semiconductor devices typically have longer lifespans than other types of components, PTVS diodes can be a good choice for applications where zero maintenance is a priority.
A growing need for circuit protection is in applications that operate from 48 VDC power lines. One reason may be that 48 V is considered the highest voltage humans can touch without fear of serious shock. Within 48 V applications, designers of 5G radio sites, e-bike chargers, PoE equipment, and servers are more and more often specifying PTVS devices for protection. Another growth area for PTVS diodes is the 400 VDC, 600 VDC, and even 800 VDC applications, such as electric vehicle, solar energy, and server farm applications.
While it could be simple to overprotect these types of higher power applications and call it a day, such an approach is not a responsible approach if it increases the price or device complexity unnecessarily.