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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Photo Diode and its applications

Silicon photodiodes are semiconductor devices responsive to high energy particles and photons. Photodiodes operate by absorption of photons or charged particles and generate a flow of current in an external circuit, proportional to the incident power. Photodiodes can be used to detect the presence or absence of minute quantities of light and can be calibrated for extremely accurate measurements from intensities below 1 pW/cm2 to intensities above 100 mW/cm2. Silicon photodiodes are utilized in such diverse applications as spectroscopy, photography, analytical instrumentation, optical position sensors, beam alignment, surface characterization, laser range finders, optical communications, and medical imaging instruments.

Planar diffused silicon photodiodes are simply P-N junction diodes. A P-N junction can be formed by diffusing either a P-type impurity (anode), such as Boron, into a N-type bulk silicon wafer, or a N-type impurity, such as Phosphorous, into a P-type bulk silicon wafer. The diffused area defines the photodiode active area. To form an ohmic contact another impurity diffusion into the backside of the wafer is necessary. The impurity is an N-type for P-type active area and P-type for an N-type active area. The contact pads are deposited on the front active area on defined areas, and on the backside, completely covering the device. The active area is then deposited on with an anti-reflection coating to reduce the reflection of the light for a specific predefined wavelength. The non-active area on the top is covered with a thick layer of silicon oxide. By controlling the thickness of bulk substrate, the speed and responsivity of the photodiode can be controlled. Note that the photodiodes, when biased, must be operated in the reverse bias mode, i.e. a negative voltage applied to anode and positive voltage to cathode.
Silicon is a semiconductor with a band gap energy of 1.12 eV at room temperature. This is the gap between the valence band and the conduction band. At absolute zero temperature the valence band is completely filled and the conduction band is vacant. As the temperature increases, the electrons become excited and escalate from the valence band to the conduction band by thermal energy. The electrons can also be escalated to the conduction band by particles or photons with energies greater than 1.12eV, which corresponds to wavelengths shorter than 1100 nm. The resulting electrons in the conduction band are free to conduct current. Due to concentration gradient, the diffusion of electrons from the Ntype region to the P-type region and the diffusion of holes from the Ptype region to the N-type region, develops a built-in voltage across the junction. The inter-diffusion of electrons and holes between the N and P regions across the junction results in a region with no free carriers. This is the depletion region. The built-in voltage across the depletion region results in an electric field with maximum at the junction and no field outside of the depletion region. Any applied reverse bias adds to the built in voltage and results in a wider depletion region. The electron-hole pairs generated by light are swept away by drift in the depletion region and are collected by diffusion from the undepleted region. The current generated is proportional to the incident light or radiation power. The light is absorbed exponentially with distance and is proportional to the absorption coefficient. The absorption coefficient is very high for shorter wavelengths in the UV region and is small for longer wavelengths (Figure 2). Hence, short wavelength photons such as UV, are absorbed in a thin top surface layer while silicon becomes transparent to light wavelengths longer than 1200 nm. Moreover, photons with energies smaller than the band gap are not absorbed at all.

• Photodiodes are used in applications similar to photodetectors, photoconductors, charge coupled device and photo multiplier tubes
• Photodiodes are used in consumer electronic devices such as VCRs, televisions, smoke detectors and compact displays
• They are often used for fire sensing in industries and they have better linear response than photoconductors
• They are also widely used in various medical applications such as detectors for computer tomography, pulse oximeters etc

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Relay Design and Operation

Basics of Relay:

A relay is an electrically operated switch. Many relays use an electromagnet to operate a switching mechanism, but other operating principles are also used. Relays find applications where it is necessary to control a circuit by a low-power signal, or where several circuits must be controlled by one signal. The first relays were used in long distance telegraph circuits, repeating the signal coming in from one circuit and re-transmitting it to another. Relays found extensive use in telephone exchanges and early computers to perform logical operations. A type of relay that can handle the high power required to directly drive an electric motor is called a contactor. Solid-state relays control power circuits with no moving parts, instead using a semiconductor device to perform switching. Relays with calibrated operating characteristics and sometimes multiple operating coils are used to protect electrical circuits from overload or faults; in modern electric power systems these functions are performed by digital instruments still called "protection relays".

Design and Operation:
A simple electromagnetic relay, such as the one taken from a car in the first picture, is an adaptation of an electromagnet. It consists of a coil of wire surrounding a soft iron core, an iron yoke, which provides a low reluctance path for magnetic flux, a movable iron armature, and a set, or sets, of contacts; two in the relay pictured. The armature is hinged to the yoke and mechanically linked to a moving contact or contacts. It is held in place by a spring so that when the relay is de-energized there is an air gap in the magnetic circuit. In this condition, one of the two sets of contacts in the relay pictured is closed, and the other set is open. Other relays may have more or fewer sets of contacts depending on their function. The relay in the picture also has a wire connecting the armature to the yoke. This ensures continuity of the circuit between the moving contacts on the armature, and the circuit track on the printed circuit board (PCB) via the yoke, which is soldered to the PCB.
When an electric current is passed through the coil, the resulting magnetic field attracts the armature, and the consequent movement of the movable contact or contacts either makes or breaks a connection with a fixed contact. If the set of contacts was closed when the relay was De-energized, then the movement opens the contacts and breaks the connection, and vice versa if the contacts were open. When the current to the coil is switched off, the armature is returned by a force, approximately half as strong as the magnetic force, to its relaxed position. Usually this force is provided by a spring, but gravity is also used commonly in industrial motor starters. Most relays are manufactured to operate quickly. In a low voltage application, this is to reduce noise. In a high voltage or high current application, this is to reduce arcing.
If the coil is energized with DC, a diode is frequently installed across the coil, to dissipate the energy from the collapsing magnetic field at deactivation, which would otherwise generate a voltage spike dangerous to circuit components. Some automotive relays already include a diode inside the relay case. Alternatively a contact protection network, consisting of a capacitor and resistor in series, may absorb the surge. If the coil is designed to be energized with AC, a small copper ring can be crimped to the end of the solenoid. This "shading ring" creates a small out-of-phase current, which increases the minimum pull on the armature during the AC cycle
By analogy with the functions of the original electromagnetic device, a solid-state relay is made with a thyristor or other solid-state switching device. To achieve electrical isolation an optocoupler can be used which is a light-emitting diode (LED) coupled with a photo transistor.

Relays are used to and for:
• Control a high-voltage circuit with a low-voltage signal, as in some types of modems or audio amplifiers,
• Control a high-current circuit with a low-current signal, as in the starter solenoid of an automobile,
• Detect and isolate faults on transmission and distribution lines by opening and closing circuit breakers (protection relays)

ARM processor and Its features

 ARM processor and Its features
Most of the Engineering Projects are in need of using advanced processors. In this scenario, ARM processor play a vital role. This article gives an over all features of ARM processor compared with conventional Micro controllers.
The LPC2148 microcontrollers are based on a 32/16 bit ARM7TDMI-S CPU with real-time emulation and embedded trace support, that combines the microcontroller with embedded high speed flash memory ranging from 32 kB to 512 kB. A 128-bit wide memory interface and unique accelerator architecture enable 32-bit code execution at the maximum clock rate. 
For critical code size applications, the alternative 16-bit Thumb mode reduces code by more than 30 % with minimal performance penalty. Due to their tiny size and low power consumption, LPC2148 are ideal for applications where miniaturization is a key requirement, such as access control and point-of-sale. A blend of serial communications interfaces ranging from a USB 2.0 Full Speed device, multiple UARTS, SPI, SSP to I2Cs and on-chip SRAM of 8 kb up to 40 kb, make these devices very well suited for communication gateways and protocol converters, soft modems, voice recognition and low end imaging, providing both large buffer size and high processing power. 
Various 32-bit timers, single or dual 10-bit ADC(s), 10-bit DAC, PWM channels and 45 fast GPIO lines with up to nine edge or level sensitive external interrupt pins make these microcontrollers particularly suitable for industrial control and medical systems.


• ARM7TDMI-S microcontroller is a 16/32-bit microcontroller.
• 8 to 40 kb of on-chip static RAM and 32 to 512 kb of on-chip flash program memory.
128 bit wide interface/accelerator enables high speed 60 MHz operation.
• In-System/In-Application Programming (ISP/IAP) via on-chip boot-loader software.
Single flash sector or full chip erase in 400 ms and programming of 256 bytes in 1 ms.
• One or two (LPC2141/2 vs. LPC2144/6/8) 10-bit A/D converters provide a total of 6/14
analog inputs, with conversion times as low as 2.44 μs per channel.
• Single 10-bit D/A converter provides variable analog output.
• Two 32-bit timers/external event counters (with four capture and four compare
channels each), PWM unit (six outputs) and watchdog.
• Low power real-time clock with independent power and dedicated 32 kHz clock input.
• Multiple serial interfaces including two UARTs (16C550), two Fast I2C-bus (400 kbit/s), SPI and SSP with buffering and variable data length capabilities.
• Vectored interrupt controller with configurable priorities and vector addresses.
• Up to 45 of 5 V tolerant fast general purpose I/O pins.
• Up to nine edge or level sensitive external interrupt pins available.
• 60 MHz maximum CPU clock available from programmable on-chip PLL with settling time of 100 μs.
• On-chip integrated oscillator operates with an external crystal in range from 1 MHz to 30 MHz and with an external oscillator up to 50 MHz.
• Power saving modes include Idle and Power-down.
• Individual enable/disable of peripheral functions as well as peripheral clock scaling for additional power optimization.
• Processor wake-up from Power-down mode via external interrupt, USB, Brown-Out Detect (BOD) or Real-Time Clock (RTC).
• Single power supply chip with Power-On Reset (POR) and BOD circuits:
– CPU operating voltage range of 3.0 V to 3.6 V (3.3 V ± 10 %) with 5 V tolerant I/O pads.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grid Computing Vs Clusters

I recently attended a seminar on Grid Computing. In this seminar, a common questions was asked by the participants. The question is, what is the main difference between Grid Computing and Cluster computing?. I would like to share a glimpse of these two.
If a number of computers are used together to solve a problem over internet is called cluster of computer. On the other hand, The cooperation among the computers to solve a problem is called as cluster of computing.
In Grid computing, though the same concept as cluster computer, however it is used for solving large problems. The main difference is that cluster is homogeneous, where as grid is heterogeneous. The cluster of cluster is also called as grid computing. Homogeneous in cluster means the computers are of same hardware and OS. The computers on the part of a grid run different OS and different hardware. Grid is normally distributed over Lan or Wan.

Monday, April 5, 2010

All Built in Application – Apple’s iPad.
This device is really fantastic invention in the Modern world technology. While I watched it through a TV news, it is unbelievable to see its all the features.
The features are
Multi Touch screen capabilities
We can completely experience the world with its unique Web feature.
No keyboard, no mouse are required, however all can be done with our figures for surfing
The way of typing and sending emails is totally different
The photo viewing capabilities are really extraordinary
With its video applications, watching HD movies, TV shows, podcasts and music videos are giving us nice experience
The Youtube applications is specifically designed to view through ipad
The other features are ipod (for music) and iTunes
Though I have listed all, I watched it only on a TV news. In future would like to have such a fantastic device here with me.

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