Shawn Fahrenbruch, a chip designer at Microsemi, has spoken up about a chance conversation seven years ago that led to his development of a power diode with a forward drop of a mere 50mV.
Talking to a Stanford professor, Fahrenbruch learned that traditional diodes have a poor lifespan when used in high-output solar panel installation. When the diode blows, so does the panel – and with many installation using poor monitoring systems, a series of broken panels can go unnoticed.
Fahrenbruch’s new design isn’t public, but he has described the Schottky-replacement part as featuring a MOSFET connected across the terminals to provide an open or short circuit, plus a control circuit and a switched-capacitor boost converter capable of powering the chip from its own 50mV forward voltage drop.
Acording to Microsemi’s internal testing, the production-ready LX2400 chip is a surface-mount component just 2mm tall and measuring 7.5mm x 11.5mm and is capable of maintaining its impressive forward voltage drop from the milliamp range up to 20A.
A fascinating interview with Fahrenbruch, in which he explains the design process for the part, is available over on Electronics Weekly.