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Reimagine current sensors in switch mode power apps

Posted: 03 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:AC current sensor? power control? CMOS?

Power control schemes would not be possible without real-time information supplied by the AC current sensor. Designers often implement these sensors using transformers, op amps and passive discrete components, in spite of the many single-chip solutions on the market. They cling to discrete circuit design approaches for reasons of cost and/or performance, while awaiting a more optimized, single-chip AC current sensor solution to emerge. But so far, they have seen only incremental improvement in already available, older technologies.

The designer?s short list of required attributes begins with cost. Power systems are under severe cost pressure, so the AC current sensor must have an attractive installed costthe cost of the sensor plus any peripheral components, plus any added manufacturing cost such as calibration. Next is low effective series resistance to minimize power loss in the current sense path. Beyond cost and efficiency, small physical size is a critical requirement for board-mount power module applications. Other desirable attributes are high accuracy, adequate isolation voltage, and wide operating bandwidth for high frequency system applications.

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