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18 September, 2019

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In Brief

01 September, 2004

In Brief

• The possibility of rugged silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors replacing conventional silicon devices in drives and other applications, has come a step closer with the development of a new method for making near-perfect SiC crystals. Although SiC devices are more efficient and can operate at higher voltages than silicon, their commercialisation has been hampered by the cost of producing the SiC crystals, half of which have flaws. The new process, developed by researchers at Toyota`s Central research and Development Laboratories, produces crystals up to 7cm across, with almost no flaws.

• The US market for nanotechnology tools will expand by almost 30% a year to reach $900m by 2008 and $2.7bn by 2013, according to a new forecast by the Freedonia Group. The tools are needed to measure, manipulate, fabricate, simulate and test matter and components in the nanoscale range - 0.1-100nm.

Rockwell Automation has told 2,000 suppliers worldwide that they must stop using lead in certain products. In future, for example, Rockwell will only accept lead-free solder for circuit boards, and lead-free additives for cable jackets. Rockwell is also demanding the use of non-hexavalent chromate coatings on sheet metal.

Siemens has announced that it plans to support the EDD (electronic device description) technology for configuring field devices, rather than the alternative DTM (device type manager) approach. The company asserts that compatibility problems and need for future upgrades, mean that maintaining field devices with DTM will result in unnecessary costs for end-users. But Siemens will still recommend DTM for some complex I/O devices.

Tamagawa claims to have developed the world`s smallest hybrid stepper motor. The 20mm-square motor is available in a 30mm-long version weighing 50g, or a 46.5mm-long model weighing 85g. It comes in two-phase versions offering 200 steps of 1.8 degrees per revolution, or five-phase versions providing 500 0.72-degree steps. When used with a matching microstepping drive, the motors can provide 125,000 steps per revolution. Torque levels are from 0.013-0.032Nm with maximum pull-out torque at about 1,000 pulses/s for the two-phase versions, and 20,000 pulses/s for the five-phase models. The motors are available in the UK from SmartDrive.

• The Californian motion control specialist Animatics has developed a cable that allows users to create installations of several servo motors using a simple plug-and-play approach. The Add-A-Motor cable is designed to link Animatics` SmartMotors in a serial daisy-chain, eliminating the need to produce customised, multi-axis cable systems for each application. The cable, which carries DC power and RS-232 communications, is also expected to enhance system reliability. It will be available in four lengths, from 0.3-7.5m.

• A company based in Daventry, UK, Orange Enterprizes, is offering a free demonstration of a program that models wind turbine systems, including the turbine, generators and inverters that feed power into the mains supply. The program, which can be downloaded from, allows users to study the principles of wind power generation, including five different ways of converting wind power to electricity.

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