Smart inductor sensor IC offers excellent noise immunity

3rd August 2015
Barney Scott

Microsemi has announced the availability of the first device in its latest family of sensor interface ICs based upon inductive sensing technology. The LX3301A, the first inductive sensor IC in the market utilising Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT) architecture implementations on PCBs, is designed for applications within the automotive and industrial markets.

Sensors are a key element in the feedback loop of virtually all closed-loop systems. With Microsemi’s inductive sensing technology, the LX3301A sensor interface IC features LVDT principles, resulting in superior immunity to noise and interference. Microsemi’s technology can also replace the incumbent Hall-effect sensors currently utilised in the marketplace, as these magnet-based sensors are susceptible to external magnetic fields and/or metal objects in close proximity. Inductive technology eliminates the magnet, thereby improving immunity to such interference.

“Microsemi is a market leader in inductive sensing technology, having supplied customised ICs in production for more than five years, and we are excited to expand our market opportunities with the LX3301A,” said Shafy Eltoukhy, Vice President and Business Unit Manager, Microsemi. “Inductive sensing is an emerging technology which can replace Hall-effect sensing in a wide variety of mechanical motion sensing applications, and provides significant improvement in temperature stability, enhanced reliability and safety, and reduced system costs for our customers.”

The device is suitable for a variety of applications related to control systems and industrial automation, specifically linear displacement measurement (fluid level sensing, gear position for transmission actuator position and brake lamp switch/proximity detection) and angular motion measurement (robotic arm position, rotating shaft position, pedal position and rotary controls). It also meets strict automotive application requirements, including AECQ100-certified grade 1, ISO26262 compliance and production part approval process (PPAP) documentation support.

The device's additional features include reliable contactless sensing, an embedded 32-bit processing engine with 12kB programme memory, two sensor input channels with integrated demodulator, internal oscillator with frequency range of 1 to 5MHz, dual 13-bit ADC with sample rates to 2kHz and user-programmable 16x16-bit non-volatile configuration memory, as well an experienced automotive support team to ensure successful adoption.

The implementation of sensors continues to expand throughout the automotive and industrial markets. For example, according to MEMS Journal, the number of new light vehicles (cars and light trucks) shipped worldwide will grow from approximately 85m in 2014 to 110m by 2020. These vehicles currently feature an average of 60-100 sensors on board, but as cars are rapidly getting “smarter,” the number of sensors is projected to reach as many as 200 sensors per car. This translates to approximately 22bn sensors used in the automotive industry per year by 2020.

The LX33xx sensor IC family can be used with Microsemi’s motor drive reference design utilising the SmartFusion2 SoC FPGA and a motor control IP suite to process the sensor inputs and motor drive algorithms. The sensor inputs can be connected to the motor control evaluation board.

Microsemi’s LX3301A is available now.

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