V•I Chips Solve a Noise Problem

January 18, 2008
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A small company located in the northeastern US specializing in rapid prototyping of harsh environment instrumentation and ocean-acoustic research was developing a sonar system designed to detect intruders in a particular area, eg for harbor defence.

The new sonar system was being designed to transmit and receive signals that can then be interpreted to identify what has been detected, such as a swimmer or a small underwater vehicle. Vicor initially provided Micro modules for the prototype system, but the sonar system transmits a signal and waits to receive a reflected signal in response. During that transmit and receive portion of operation, the Micro modules are at no load and switching in the same frequency band that the system is looking at, making noise an issue. To address these issues the designers decided to use Vicor’s new V•I Chip products as they provide a fixed higher frequency, above the band the sonar uses. They are also very small and highly efficient.

The complete sonar system is installed in a cylindrical can placed in the water and the can is subsequently attached to hydrophone transducers. The higher fixed frequency and inherent low noise properties of V•I Chips are well suited to this environment because the signal strengths are very low. The received signals are amplified, so any noise present will be amplified as well.

The PRMs and VTMs in this application are connected in a high-power parallel array since the power requirements for the transmit system are fairly large. The high density and small size of the V•I Chips are critical because customers would like the underwater system to be small enough to ensure that such a defensive system is as unobtrusive and unnoticeable as possible. In addition, the small size of the V•I Chips provides cost savings since the material used to house all of the electronics is fairly expensive on a per-square-foot basis.

The high efficiency of V•I Chips was a particularly valuable attribute for this program since the sonar is in a can underwater and there is no circulation to dissipate the heat. V•I Chips do not dissipate much power when they are loaded, so it was easier to keep the internal temperature in the can at a specific temperature.

Because of the advantages offered by the V•I Chips, Vicor was able to provide an innovative solution to solve a complex problem.

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