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Silicon Labs Obsoletes Optocouplers With Drop-in Digital Isolators

Silicon Laboratories Inc. (NASDAQ: SLAB), a leader in high-performance, analog-intensive, mixed-signal ICs, today introduced the industry’s first drop-in replacement for optocouplers based on mainstream CMOS technology and incorporating an innovative light-emitting diode (LED) emulator input. The new Si87xx digital isolators offer a perfect pin configuration, package and footprint fit for a number of optocoupler products while offering superior noise immunity, more robust performance and greater reliability, making them ideal for solar power inverters, switched mode power supplies (SMPS), uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), industrial drives, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), high-voltage medical equipment and other applications that often use optocouplers.

Used for more than 40 years, optocouplers are inherently limited by outdated LED-based technology, which exhibits significant output variation over input current, temperature and age. These variations reduce the operating performance and reliability over the optocoupler’s lifetime, resulting in increased design complexity and shorter life expectancy for end products. Because of their aging effects, optocouplers are often specified to last only 10 years, posing a serious problem for industrial system designers who want to develop products with 20+ year warranties.

Silicon Labs’ Si87xx opto-replacement devices use a patented CMOS-based isolation architecture that is completely immune to the output variations that plague LED-based optocouplers. CMOS-based capacitive isolation technology provides more than ten times the mean-time-to-failure (MTTF) rate of optocouplers. By offering longer device lifetimes and higher reliability, the Si87xx isolators enable system manufacturers to support longer end product warranties and reduce costs associated with repair or replacement. Less variability, especially in the input turn-on current, also simplifies system designs since engineers no longer need to anticipate aging effects when using the Si87xx devices.

The Si87xx family is based on Silicon Labs’ industry-leading capacitive isolation technology, with isolation ratings up to 5 kV and fully compliant with IEC 60747-5-2 including 10 kV surge protection. The family meets the requirements for IEC 60950-1, 61010-1 and 60601-1 (reinforced insulation) and provides up to 1200 V working voltage with a 60+ year lifetime.

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