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E-field sensor IC finds new markets

Posted: 23 Feb 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Bettyann Liotta? MC34940? Freescale? E-field?

Freescale Semiconductor expanded its line of electric field (E-field) sensing ICs from automotive applications to the appliance and industrial markets.

Freescale claims it offers the only single-chip imaging IC that generates a low-level electric field and detects changes in that electric field. The IC generates a low-frequency sine wave, which is adjustable by using an external resistor and is optimized for 120kHz. The MC34940 E-field IC is said to provide designers with greater functionality for creating embedded systems that require non-contact sensing.

The MC34940 sensor can be also be used to implement proximity detection and three-dimensional E-field sensing. At the same time, it is able to trigger functions such as turning switches on or off, disabling features or setting off alarms to indicate dangerous situations for devices such as coffee pots, hair dryers and lawnmowers, the company said.

Manufactured with SMARTMOST technology, the MC34940 integrates support for up to seven simple electrodes, which can be used independently to provide information to perform multiple functions simultaneously. The device also supports up to 28 touch pad sensors.

Additionally, for more demanding applications, the MC34940's on-board shield driver protects the electrode signal from any external disturbances. With coaxial cables, for example, electrodes can be remote while obtaining measurements as accurately as if the touch pads were in close proximity to the IC. The chip can also be embedded in glass or behind a touch panel for extreme temperatures and corrosive liquids.

The DEMO1985MC34940E evaluation kit is available now for $56.35 and includes the MC34940 evaluation board, driver CD-ROM, connectors and program software. Offered in a 24-pin SOICW package, the MC34940 is available now at a suggested resale price of $1.85 in 10,000-piece quantities.

- Bettyann Liotta

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