Passive Components Get Better

When you want to talk about cool new components, you are probably thinking about chips or, these days, even modules. Passive components like resistors, capacitors, and inductors are a solved problem, right? [Darshill Patel] begs to differ. There is still innovation happening in the passive market, and he highlights some of the recent advances.

There are thick-film resistors that don’t need lead, for example. There are also supercapacitor modules with very low ESR. For inductors, at least one manufacturer is moving away from traditional wire loops and using flat wire windings instead. These have a larger cross-section, which reduces unwanted resistance. In addition, it offers more cooling area for heat dissipation.

Of course, passive components have never been as simple as people think. Picking a capacitor’s value is only half the battle. You also need to consider the material to optimize how it works in your design. Wirewound resistors are also inductors unless you get special non-inductive ones that use special wiring techniques to cancel much of the parasitic inductance.

It shows that you can never stop learning about even the simplest components. We are still waiting to figure out what we want to do with a memristor. While tiny surface mount components are good for some assembly reasons, they also have helped reduce unwanted component effects.