A Note From the Editor

Next year, 2022, will mark the end of nuclear power in Germany. Currently, Germany still has six active nuclear plants. Three of them (one near my hometown) will shut down at the end of 2021, and the remaining three will shut down in 2022. Why is Germany moving away from this technology? Sure, we had disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima. A group of scientists and an ethics council came to the conclusion that if a technologically advanced country like Japan isn’t able to prevent a meltdown and run nuclear plants safely, then neither can Germany. The risk is too high. Well, in fact, the decision is economically driven too. Let’s compare the full cost of building a plant, then running and maintaining it, along with the added financial risk of having to dismantle it again. Let’s compare the cost to produce 1 kWh of energy (I know, physically you cannot produce energy). Wind energy production costs run about 4 ct/kWh, and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy costs about 7 ct/kWh. Both costs tend to decline over time, whereas nuclear power is produced at 10 ct/kWh with a tendency to increase. Financially, nuclear power plants may not be the best solution. In many countries, these efforts are mainly driven by subventions. Can you imagine if we invested this capital in green technology instead? 

And now back to the technology and our Analog Dialogue articles.

Precision CTSD ADCs eliminate many of the barriers to achieving optimal precision performance and simplified front-end design. In “CTSD Precision ADCs—Part 4: Ease of ADC Input and Reference Drive Simplify Signal Chain Designs,” we highlight one of the most important architectural traits of CTSD ADCs—the easy to drive resistive input and reference. In this article, we discuss how new CTSD ADC architectures simplify design through their resistor input, reference load, input drive, and reference drive. To review prior articles in this CTSD precision ADC series, see parts 1, 2, and 3.

In the article “How A2B Technology and Digital Microphones Enable Superior Performance in Emerging Automotive Applications,” we explain recent advances in digital microphone and connectivity technologies. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology is swiftly becoming the new industry standard for microphones, as it offers many advantages over traditional microphones. Integrating a MEMS sensor with an analog-to-digital converter in a single IC results in a digital microphone that delivers digital signals ready for microcontroller processing. This solution, in combination with the Automotive Audio Bus®, is becoming standard in many applications where multiple microphones are combined in an array. This enables audio algorithms like noise cancellation, environmental noise cancellation, enhanced hands-free mode, and acoustic passenger detection to be easily added to the system.

Optimizing Power Systems for the Signal Chain—Part 3: RF Transceivers” is a continuation of our signal chain power optimization series (see Part 1 and Part 2). This article focuses on another part of the signal chain—the RF transceivers. It discusses the application of sensitivity testing methodology to check device sensitivity to the noise coming from each power rail to identify which ones need additional noise filtering. An optimized power solution is provided, which is further validated by comparing its SFDR and phase noise performance to the current power distribution network when attached to the RF transceiver.

Is isolation achievable without hindering the performance of high performance systems? In some applications you need an isolation barrier between the hot analog side and the cold digital microcontroller side. A general approach is to use an optocoupler or isolated drivers for different interfaces. Why not implement an isolation barrier directly into the ADC? Getting high performance SAR ADCs isolated and running without sacrificing performance is a challenge as there are various noise sources within a design. In this RAQ article, “Isolation for SAR ADCs,” we will explain the basics of this task.

A common-drain amplifier, also known as a source follower, is one of three basic single-stage amplifier topologies typically used as a voltage buffer. In this StudentZone article, “ADALM2000 Activity: The Source Follower (NMOS),” we describe how to use the NMOS. The gate terminal of the transistor serves as the input, the source is the output, and the drain is common to both (input and output). This is where the name “source follower” comes from. This circuit is used to transform impedances. Use your breadboard and the ADALM2000 to test it out.

And as we have for 55 years, we invite you to be part of the dialogue in Analog Dialogue. You can get in touch through our blog, Facebook page, or email. Let us know how we’re doing and what you’d like to see from us in the coming months.