MAGAZINE

I left the US for Japan almost seven months ago and finally returned last week. Business meetings, sales calls and other work activities is mostly done via the internet in Japan.

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New (and different) industry programs fill (wide) gaps of academia.

In the 2020s, receiving an undergraduate – or even a graduate – degree in one’s chosen area of expertise is no longer enough to start a career, let alone sustain one. We must all be lifelong learners to keep abreast of new information, technology, and processes to flourish. Continuing education is not an option; it is a must. The PCB design occupation is no exception. Cue scores of passionate subject matter experts, eager to impart decades of knowledge gleaned from on-the-job training, higher education, face-to-face interaction, and teaching in a time when the industry struggles to replace veterans who are retiring at a rapid pace.

In March, PCD&F reached out to the creators of emerging online programs available to those interested in perfecting design and layout of printed circuit boards. First, PCD&F spoke with Michael Creeden, CID+, and Rick Hartley, BSEE, CID, via Zoom about their new self-published manual, Printed Circuit Engineering Professional, and the instructor-led program that accompanies it: Printed Circuit Engineering Designer (PCED), available from a national training center.

Creeden and Hartley, who coauthored the 400+ page A-to-Z reference guide with Gary Ferrari, CID+, Susy Webb, CID, and Stephen Chavez, CID+, are directors of the nascent Printed Circuit Engineering Association. PCEA is offering those who complete the program a new certification, Certified Printed Circuit Designer (CPCD).

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Updates in silicon and electronics technology.

Ed.: This is a special feature courtesy of Binghamton University.

IMEC and Intel researchers develop spintronic logic device. Spintronics is a budding path in the quest for a future beyond CMOS. Devices use much less power than their CMOS counterparts and keep their data unpowered. IMEC and Intel researchers have created a spintronic logic device that can be fully controlled with electric current rather than magnetic fields. An electron’s spin generates a magnetic moment, and when many electrons with identical spins are close together, their magnetic moments can align and join forces to form a larger magnetic field. Such a region is called a magnetic domain, and the boundaries between domains are called domain walls. A material can consist of many such domains and domain walls, assembled like a magnetized mosaic. (IEEC file #12091, Semiconductor Digest, 1/21/21)

Plasmonics: A new way to link processors with light. Plasmonic transceivers transfer large amounts of data between processors. Fiberoptic links are the main method of slinging data between computers in data centers. Silicon photonics components are large in comparison to their electronic counterparts because optical wavelengths are much larger than transistors and copper interconnects. University of Toronto and Arm researchers have developed new silicon transceiver components that rely on plasmonics instead of photonics. The results have transceivers capable of at least double the bandwidth, while consuming 33% of the energy and 20% of the area, and could be built atop the processor. (IEEC file #12097, IEEE Spectrum, 1/21/21)

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Signals and energy move in the spaces, not in the traces.

When a principle of physics is accepted, it explains phenomena everywhere in the universe. The law of gravity works on matter, whether the masses are located on earth, in the sun and or among the stars. The law must transition at the atomic level where the particles must follow the laws of quantum physics. There may also be a transition when dimensions are those of the entire universe. For the world, we can sense there is only one law.

The laws I want to talk about are the basic laws of electricity. I am not referring to circuit theory laws as described by Kirchhoff or Ohm, but to the laws governing the electric and magnetic fields. These fields are fundamental to all electrical activity, whether the phenomenon is lightning, ESD, radar, antennas, sunlight, power generation, analog or digital circuitry. These laws are often called Maxwell’s equations.

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