Dallas, Tex. — Texas Instruments (TI) has claimed the industry's first inductance-to-digital converter (LDC), which the company describes as a "new data converter category that uses coils and springs as inductive sensors to deliver higher resolution, increased reliability, and greater flexibility than existing sensing solutions at a lower system cost."
Inductive sensing, which is a contactless sensing technology, can be used to measure the position, motion, or composition of a metal or conductive target, as well as detect the compression, extension or twist of a spring, said TI. Applications range from simple push buttons, knobs, and on/off switches to high-resolution heart rate monitors, turbine flow meters, and high-speed motor/gear controllers. These LDCs can be used in a variety of markets, including automotive, white goods, consumer electronics, mobile devices, computing, industrial, and medical.
"LDC technology enables engineers to create sensors using low-cost and readily available PCB traces or metal springs. LDCs provide high-resolution sensing of any metal or conductor – including the human body," said Dave Heacock, senior vice president of TI Silicon Valley Analog, in a statement. "LDCs provide system designers with a new platform for developing breakthrough solutions to difficult system problems. We can’t wait to see what they come up with."
- Higher resolution: Enables sub-micron resolution in position-sensing applications with 16-bit resonance impedance and 24-bit inductance values.
- Increased reliability: Offers contactless sensing that is immune to nonconductive contaminants, such as oil, dirt and dust, which can shorten equipment life.
- Greater flexibility: Allows the sensor to be located remotely from the electronics, where PCBs cannot be placed.
- Lower system cost: Uses low-cost sensors and targets and does not require magnets.
- Limitless possibilities: Supports pressed foil or conductive ink targets, offering endless opportunities for creative and innovative system design.
- Lower system power: Consumes less than 8.5 mW during standard operation and less than 1.25 mW in standby mode.
Availability: The first product in the new family, the LDC1000, is available to order today in a 16-pin, 4- x 5-mm SON package. An automotive-qualified version will be available in the first half of 2014.
Technical Literature: Download the datasheet and Guide to Inductive Sensing infographic to learn how to build an inductive sensor using an LDC. TI also offers a video demonstration on how to achieve high resolution sensing with the LDC1000 and a PCB coil.
Tools and Support: The LDC1000EVM, which includes an MSP430F5528 microcontroller (MCU), is available to evaluate the device and can be purchased for $29.00, and TI's online tool WEBENCH Inductive Sensing Designer.