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Drive-on-a-chip ushers in `new era` for appliances

25 May, 2007

Mitsubishi has developed a inverter-on-chip which, it claims, is the world’s smallest IPM (intelligent power module) for applications up to 90W, and the first to use a surface-mounting format, making it easier and cheaper for manufacturers to integrate into their products. The chip is designed to drive brushless DC motors in volume applications such as domestic appliances.

Mitsubishi drive-on-a-chip

"Until now, manufacturers of dishwashers, compressors for refrigerators, or small pumps for heating systems, often had to refrain from using electronic motor control due to space and cost restraints," explains Van Trung Nguyen, Mitsubishi’s general manager for power semiconductors in Europe. "By using our M81500FP intelligent power module, they will be able to enter a new era in electronic motor control and provide a significant contribution to reduce the overall power consumption of white goods."

For consumers, he adds, the chip will result "not only in significant energy savings, but also in smoother, more silent operation, which, in turn, opens up new marketing and sales opportunities for manufacturers."

The chip, rated at 1A, 500V, combines control, drive and protection functions, as well as IGBTs (integrated gate bipolar transistors), and freewheeling and bootstrap diodes. Just three external passive components – a resistor and two capacitors – are needed to use the device.

The chip has built-in protection against under-voltage, over-temperatures and short circuits, and can turn off within 1 microsecond under short-circuit conditions.

The device measures 17.5mm x 17.93mm2 and Mitsubishi says that it will reduce the size of appliance drive printed circuit boards by 55%, to less than 210mm2. It predicts that the chip will cut the costs of brushless DC drive systems to a level where they can be used in non-premium appliances. The surface-mounting format will allow manufacturers to assemble these systems economically on highly automated production equipment.

Mitsubishi evaluation board

Mitsubishi has developed an evaluation board to help designers to familiarise themselves with the chip. The board (shown above) measures 59 x 38mm and includes an NEC microcontroller.

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