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Components continue shrinking

Posted: 01 Sep 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:resistor? multimedia phones? capacitor? PCB?

Passive component miniaturization prevails for a growing number of portable electronics designs. The goal is to achieve equivalent performance in smaller packages. In the case of capacitors, if you can squeeze a higher capacitance or voltage in a smaller case size, that's even better. With resistors, there is a push for the same or better performance in smaller packages, particularly for consumer devices such as multimedia phones.

Vishay嚙編 TR8 series of molded MicroTan tantalum chip caps includes a 0603 chip device with equivalent series resistance of 1.5次.

More functions, less footprint
Demand for smaller chip capacitors continues to increase as consumer devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players, notebook computers and gaming devices pack more functionality into ever-smaller footprints. Multilayer ceramic capacitor (MLCC) content in cellphones, for example, has nearly doubled from 230 to about 400, thanks to the convergence of features on phone platforms, according to John Denslinger, executive VP of sales and marketing at Murata Electronics North America.

The most popular case size today is 0402, but there is growing demand for 0201 chips, Denslinger said. Even tiny 01005 devices are finding a home in handset power-amplifier modules, he added.

Taiyo Yuden Co. Ltd has introduced a 4.7?F MLCC in a 0402 package that offers twice the capacitance of previous 0402-size capacitors, thanks to 30 percent thinner dielectric layers. The devices are used for decoupling powerline circuits in high-performance ICs.

Vishay Intertechnology Inc. brought out the TR8 series of molded MicroTan tantalum chip capacitors. The parts deliver equivalent series resistance (ESR) of 0.8次 (at 100KHz and 47?F) in 0805 case size and an industry-low 1.5次 in 0603 case size.

Demand for smaller cases
Low ESR values, combined with a small footprint, allow for greater efficiency in audio filtering and signal processing applications, while requiring less PCB space, Vishay said. Applications for the series include cellphones, digital cameras, MP3 players and other portable devices.

Demand for smaller sizes is also increasing in the market for higher-voltage devices. Vishay, for example, most recently expanded its HVArc Guard MLCC line with a 0805 chip size. The HVArc Guard MLCCs feature a unique internal structure that prevents surface arc-over at high voltages. Vishay said the design allows for higher capacitances and facilitates the use of smaller case sizes in high-voltage products.

Murata claims the industry嚙編 first 0.9mm x 0.6mm (0302) 1?F capacitor array.

Kemet Corp. is also targeting the high-voltage market, touting the industry's first 35V-rated surface-mount polymer tantalum chip capacitor. The T521 series includes a low-profile V case size (7.3mm x 4.3mm x 1.9mm) with a capacitance rating of 15?F and a maximum ESR rating of 100m次. Future releases will include higher case heights (7.3mm x 4.3mm x 3mm) with target capacitance values of 22?F and 33?F, as well as smaller footprints (3.5mm x 2.8mm x 2mm), targeting application voltages of 6.8?F and less.

Similarly, in the chip resistor market, 0402 is becoming the most popular case size. Thanks to the growing trend toward integration, suppliers are reporting an increased interest in both 0201 devices and chip arrays.

Managing trade-offs
Downsizing and integration present challenges in terms of how much smaller a resistor can practicably be made, and what electrical-performance and other parameters might be traded off in the process, said Kory Schroeder, director of marketing at Stackpole Electronics. At some point, it may make more sense to integrate the resistor into the IC or board, or integrate several in a chip array package, he added.

While there is increased interest in 0201 chips, they are difficult to handle on tape, and there are manufacturing difficulties, said Schroeder. The chips require a different type of nozzle and must be placed at a slower pace to ensure they are in the appropriate orientation and soldered properly, he added.

The portable device market will be a driver for all SMDs. The success of devices like that of the Apple iPhone, with the integration of many applications in a single handheld package, "will drive smaller case sizes and higher power in a given case size," said Schroeder.

New products being developed at Stackpole include 01005 resistor chip and a new 0201 current sense resistor for portable applications. Stackpole launched the MAC series of concave surface-mount chip resistor arrays with dual-value capability on a single chip. The series offers the capability to put a voltage divider or other functional network of resistors onto a single part.

The Stackpole series can offer any combination of resistance values from approximately 10次 up to 1M次, the company said.

- Gina Roos

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