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Energy efficiency is the driving force
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System integration

Energy efficiency is the driving force

As a result of the widespread introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) and, in future, artificial intelligence (AI), two mega trends exist that are driving forward the development of energy-efficient electronics and sensor systems.

Embedded ultra-thin micro sensors for condition monitoring using rigid-flex technology (Image: Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM/Photo: Volker Mai)
Embedded ultra-thin micro sensors for condition monitoring using rigid-flex technology (Image: Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM/Photo: Volker Mai)

With the Internet of Things, the extraordinary high number of sensor nodes that are forecast (a trillion sensors according to the vision of Janusz Bryzek) clearly show that the use of IoT, and the network infrastructure required, will have a significant impact on energy consumption. Besides energy-saving single components (controllers, memory modules, DC/DC converters, radio transceivers, sensor elements), the entire functional and energetic structure of the sensor node – from intelligent energy management, through optimized software algorithms and energy harvesting, to efficient network structures – will play a decisive role. For example, Fraunhofer launched the lighthouse project "Towards Zero Power Electronics" last year. Extremely energy-efficient sensor nodes, for example, can enable possible a service life of up to ten years for the completely autonomous operation of the sensor node.

Power chip scale packages with embedded SiC power MOSFET (Image: Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM/Foto: Volker Mai)
Power chip scale packages with embedded SiC power MOSFET (Image: Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM/Foto: Volker Mai)

Autonomous driving, and the traffic control systems associated with it, will also be an increasing driver of the growth in development of power semiconductors and energy-efficient power electronics. Here, the focus will not just have to be placed on the electric vehicle itself, but the expansion of the overall infrastructure, since the expansion of the power grid as a smart grid as well as digitalization and dynamic control are closely linked. Power electronics is therefore considered to be one of the key technological elements besides sensor nodes to be able to supply energy on demand, distribute and possibly recycle it. Direct current will have even more influence over the supply of electricity to the public in future as well. In recent years, a great deal of progress has been made in the development of nearly all performance data, such as switching speeds, switching losses and possible temperature loads, not least due to the use of the semiconductor materials, silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). However, newbuild technologies (e.g. power embedding) have also made enormous progress in terms of reliability, EMC and weight reduction.

Central themes in the further development of power electronics are higher efficiencies, higher power densities and further cost reductions. Conversion losses also need to be reduced and suitable energy storage devices integrated, in order to provide overall energy-efficient systems.

At the newly titled event, SMTconnect (formerly SMT Hybrid Packaging), the current trends in system integration are discussed and future-oriented solutions demonstrated. In addition to a variety of themes relating to the production of electronic systems, the main focuses here include:

  • The development and production of multifunctional systems
  • Complex, miniaturized sensor systems
  • The development of heterogeneous system-in-package solutions at wafer and panel level
  • The packaging of semiconductors and power electronics modules
  • The functional reliability of assemblies and systems
  • Optimizations in electronics production (costs, material and energy efficiency)

The new name of event, SMTconnect, also stands for the increasing importance of cooperations in order to meet current and very complex challenges in microelectronics and micro-systems technology.

"The increasing complexity of electronic systems requires the use of new technologies and close collaboration between all partners along the entire value chain to generate comprehensive and optimized application solutions."

Prof. Klaus-Dieter Lang, Institute Director, Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM

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