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Demystifying Surge Protection: TI Flat-Clamp Devices

Texas Instruments (TI) has designed a new clamp technology to protect against transient surge events. This Flat-Clamp technology provides a robust solution to dissipate surge transients while simultaneously providing a precise, flat and temperature-independent clamping voltage that minimizes residual voltage to the protected system.

The package area of a Flat-Clamp device is as much as 90 percent smaller than industry-standard subminiature version A (SMA)/subminiature version B (SMB) packages, with much lower capacitance and as much as 50 percent lower leakage than conventional TVS-based solutions.

This paper provides a brief overview of surge protection standards, explains Flat-Clamp technology and illustrates through examples of how this technology optimizes system designs.

The need for surge protection

The demand for more robust and space-efficient circuit protection has increased as more industrial equipment includes advanced integrated circuits (ICs). The evolution of IC technology has driven more functionality into smaller semiconductor components such that the dimension of building block transistors has shrunk to mere nanometers.

Although these ICs give industrial equipment more horsepower than ever before, smaller geometries are inherently less immune to transient stresses common in industrial environments. Unlike consumer electronic devices, most industrial systems must meet international standards for surge immunity, such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61000-4-5 surge protection and IEC 61000-4-2 electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection. Industrial systems also have longer product lifetimes and operate in harsh environments. A robust surge protection solution is a necessity for industrial equipment.

For many years, the industry’s primary choice for surge protection has been discrete TVS diodes (Figure 1). Although TVS diodes are robust and low cost, their wide temperature variation and inefficient clamping can result in a higher overall system cost and size. To accommodate these weaknesses but still ensure a robust, reliable system, designers often use higher-voltage-tolerant components. These components are more costly, consume higher power and take up more board space.

Learn more about TI Flat-Clamp devices by reading the Flat-Clamp White Paper 

This video discusses TI Flat-Clamp devices, describing the advantages over traditional TVS diodes

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