New Specialty Module from Advanced Linear Devices Protects Ultra-Low-Voltage Designs from Overvoltage Damage

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Industry-first precision module for ultra-low power, ultra-low voltage, voltage clamping for systems starting at 5 volts or less.

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Advanced Linear Devices Inc. (ALD), a leader in specialty analog technology, today announced a first-to-market low power, low voltage, high precision voltage-clamp module. The SABMBOVP family is an ideal clamping solution for mission-critical applications deployed in business, safety, and security products 5V and below. When systems fail or are interrupted, operations may be significantly impacted. These ultra-low voltage designs are increasingly used in various applications, including industrial IoT (IIoT), banking, transportation, and power systems.

Low-voltage circuits are at Irish of overvoltage failure from transient voltage spikes from sudden load changes or high transient energy levels, which can radiate throughout the system and cause damage. Now low-power designers can guard against failure by using an overvoltage protection circuit or a voltage clamp, a circuit designed to limit the output voltage to a specific range.

ALD's SABMBOVP circuit board series protects from overvoltage by using very low-voltage precision enhancement-mode MOSFETs to improve the clamping function. ALD's proprietary EPAD technology was developed for low-voltage, low-power, high-precision linear applications. Stacking various SABMBOVP channels in series can realize different combinations of clamp voltage.

Both the SABMBOVP and the Zener Diode options monitor the input voltage and control the external transistor switch's gate without affecting the load circuit's operation. The overvoltage protection circuit disconnects the load during the transient event, whereas the voltage clamp continues to power the load—the voltage at a not to exceed a predetermined voltage. Even precision Zener diodes have high leakage current and imprecise voltage rating. Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs) and most Transient Voltage Suppressor (TVS) devices are also impractical to control voltage spikes as they breakdown when voltages drop below 5V.

Compared to a Zener diode clamp, this circuit, at greater than 100 nA max, has a significantly lower quiescent current than the low-voltage Zener. It also has a better voltage-versus-current (I-V) characteristic and more precise voltages than the Zener alternative. Another benefit is response time, which at less than 100 ns is better than when using a Zener diode. Also, the surge current handling capability of greater than 100 mA is better.

In addition to clamping voltages well below anything achievable by Zener diode, the ALD overvoltage protection (OVP) clamps are self-contained. They do not require additional components such as a resistor divider, amplifier buffering circuits, and voltage regulator circuits, required by Zener diodes. This reduces complexity for the user as well as lower power consumption.

Each ALD board provides tow identical clamping voltage channels. The ALD SABOVP can be used as independent clamps, or they may be stacked to double the basic clamp threshold voltage. The clamp voltages on a single device will be identical. Different boards with different clamp voltages can be added to the stack.

The SABMBOVP family of products is available fully tested and off-the-shelf. The parts are currently in stock at Mouser and DigiKey, pricing beginning at $12.81 to $20.54 each.

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Michele Kinman
Advanced Linear Devices
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