Data Points – Sorensen and Northwestern University collaborate on a solar race car

Sorensen Powers Up North-Western’s Solar Race Car

Sorensen, a manufacturer of programmable dc power supplies, announced its participation with Northwestern University’s Solar Car Team in the team’s bid to win the American Solar Challenge. Sorensen’s DLM 3kW programmable dc power supply will be used to fully charge the car’s lithium battery pack before the race. In addition, the supply may also be used in testing the brushless dc hub motor and powering the car’s electronics in the development phase.

Northwestern Solar Car Team is the undergraduate student organization dedicated to designing and building solar electric race cars. The car, nuSun, will compete in the American Solar Challenge in the summer of 2003. The Challenge will be a 2,300-mile journey from Chicago to Los Angeles along historic Route 66.

Sorensen’s DLM 3kW is designed to provide highly stable, continuously variable output voltage and current. Its compact 2U (3.5-in) high chassis makes it convenient to use in the pit.

Visit, for more information.

Lead-Free DC-DC Converter Production

SynQor, Hudson, Mass., has recently announced plans to eliminate the use of lead from its products and manufacturing processes. SynQor’s lead-free initiative should be completed in two phases by July 31, 2003 – achieving a Lead-Free 2 status for its entire high-efficiency dc-dc converter line. The initial phase, which was recently completed, involves a change in the printed circuit board finish. The second phase will consist of eliminating lead from the solder used throughout the production process.

SynQor’s Lead-Free initiative closely follows the guidelines defined in IPC and EIA standards. Beginning Nov. 1, 2002, SynQor will switch its PCB finish from hot air solder leveled (HASL) Sn/Pb to electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) for all new and previously released products. The change to ENIG finished PCBs does not affect the form, fit, or function of SynQor’s dc/dc converters. SynQor will begin shipping ENIG finished product immediately to customers as older inventories become depleted.

SynQor completed phase one of its Lead Free initiative (ENIG PCB finish) on Nov. 1, 2002. Phase two (lead-free solder paste and I/O pins) will be completed by July 31, 2003 and will be communicated through a separate Product Change Notification.

For more information, contact SynQor at 888-567-9596, fax: 508-485-8414, e-mail: or visit

Micro Fuel Cells Integrated on a Chip

Micro fuel cells hold the promise of replacing batteries in portable equipment, providing much longer run times for devices such as cell phones and laptop computers. This device would have the potential of operating unattended for up to a year. The Georgia Tech Research Institute is one of several organizations developing micro fuel cells.

Georgia Tech researchers’ approach is a microelectronic package that includes the micro fuel cell, IC, and sensor. The micro fuel cell would operate on a solution of methanol and water, using a unique membrane developed by researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

Integrating all three devices into one package potentially makes fabrication more efficient and allows different components to work together. For instance, air brought in to operate the fuel cell could also cool the integrated circuit and provide the flow for the gas sensor, notes Paul Kohl, a professor in the School of Chemical Engineering. Metal layers deposited for the IC could also produce the fuel cell electrodes. However, co-fabricating the components on a silicon chip adds to the design challenge. Kohl and his team must also overcome limitations in fuel cell efficiency.

“We have to get all the materials and components to work well together,” Kohl says. “We also have a multidimensional challenge of how to design an efficient cell.”

Sponsored by DARPA, the project also includes Peter Hesketh, a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering, and Christopher Moore, a graduate student in the School of Chemical Engineering. Kohl hopes the micro fuel cell technology will ultimately have applications in larger equipment such as cellular telephones or laptop computers.

For more information, contact David Parekh at Aerospace, Transportation and Advanced Systems Lab, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Ga. 30332-0800, Phone: (770) 528-7826, or E-mail:

Tyco Turns Up the Heat on Lead-Free Solder

Tyco Electronics Power Systems recently announced its first lead-free power modules capable of being used in lead-free production processes, which are designed to comply with upcoming European and international environmental regulations as presently drafted. The modules can be used with existing leaded process equipment as well as the higher temperatures typical to lead-free solder.

The lead-free modules use a tin-silver-copper solder (SnAgCu), which liquefies at a higher temperature than eutectic tin-lead (SnPb) solder. Tyco Electronics has developed lead-free versions of modules that can withstand production temperatures of up to 473[degrees]F (245[degrees]C). Being able to solder at 473[degrees]F (245[degrees]C) enables OEMs to implement more quickly lead-free production based on existing component reliability data. While a 500[degrees]F (260[degrees]C) solution may be requested for some applications, the current understanding of component reliability under such process conditions requires OEMs to conduct further extensive reliability testing of these effects.

Based on customer feedback, the first Tyco Electronics products to be made lead-free are the 50W JHW050 isolated dual output series and 10A Austin Lynx [superscript][TM] nonisolated series modules (photo). Alone, or in combination, these products support a wide variety of applications in workstation, server, PC, telecommunications and data communications markets, and are among the most widely used Tyco Electronics power modules.

The Austin Lynx is a nonisolated point of load converter designed for 10A applications requiring ultrahigh efficiency of up to 94%, minimizing board space and providing maximum reliability. The Austin Lynx 10A is available in Single-Inline (SIP) and Surface Mount (SMT) packages, for vertical through-hole production or automated production processes. Both JHW050 and Austin Lynx power modules qualify as lead-free by containing less than 0.1% lead by weight.

For more information, call (800) 526-7819 or visit

COPYRIGHT 2002 PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group