AEC-Q101 qualified proximity & ambient light sensor

18th June 2014
Nat Bowers

An AEC-Q101-qualified, fully integrated proximity and ambient light optical sensor with an industry-high operating temperature range to +105°C was announced by Vishay. The VCNL4020X01 combines an IR emitter, a photo-pin-diode for proximity, an ambient light detector, a signal processing IC, and a 16-bit ADC in one small 4.8x2.3x0.8mm rectangular lead-less (LLP) package.

The three-in-one sensor features an interrupt function, supports I²C bus communication interface, and greatly simplifies window and sensor placement in a wide variety of automotive, consumer, and industrial applications.

For automotive dashboard displays and mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, PDAs, and GPS units, the Vishay VCNL4020X01 saves power as a proximity sensor by turning off the display backlight until a user is detected while using its integrated ambient light function for display/keypad adaptive brightness control and rearview mirror dimming. Containing all the circuitry needed for these applications in one device, the VCNL4020X01 eliminates the need for additional light barriers and optical alignment of the IR emitter and photo diode.

While other devices utilise chip-on-printed-circuit-board technology that results in package heights of 1.2mm or greater, the VCNL4020X01 uses a proprietary technology that delivers the lowest height on the market. This gives design engineers greater flexibility in where and how they locate the sensor. For additional flexibility, the VCNL4020X01 can function at any depth or air gap below the glass window, unlike devices with 8-, 10-, and 12-bit resolutions that require depths or air gaps of 1.5mm or less. Lower-resolution devices must also be placed away from other components on a costly and dedicated flexible circuit. The 16-bit resolution of the VCNL4020X01 allows it to be assembled on the main PCB near other components, ensures excellent cross-talk immunity, and is especially important given that windows above the sensor typically absorb 90% of the infrared emission.

The VCNL4020X01's interrupt function enables the sensor to work independently until a predefined proximity or ambient light event occurs, and then it wakes up the microcontroller. This helps customers reduce their software effort and lower their power consumption by eliminating polling communication traffic between the sensor and microcontroller.

While other products only achieve object detection up to 100mm, the VCNL4020X01 provides a programmable LED drive current of 10-200 mA in 10mA steps, allowing distances up to 200mm. To increase the range of the proximity sensor, the VCNL4020X01 also includes an integrated external emitter driver. The device offers excellent ambient light suppression by modulating the infrared signal. The emitter wavelength peaks at 890nm and has no visible "red-tail," unlike many devices from other manufacturers.

The ambient light photo-pin-diode built into the VCNL4020X01 offers sensitivity close to that of the human eye, with a 16-bit dynamic range for ambient light detection from 0.25lux to 16klux. The sensor offers 100 and 120Hz flicker noise rejection.

Featuring low standby current consumption of 1.5µA, the device offers a supply voltage range of 2.5-3.6V and I²C bus voltage range of 1.7-5V. The RoHS-compliant, halogen-free sensor provides a Moisture Sensitivity Level (MSL) of 3 for 168 hours of shelf life, and it is compatible with lead (Pb)-free soldering.

Samples and production quantities of the VCNL4020X01 are available now, with lead times of six to eight weeks for large orders.

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