You know what it's like when you connect a power supply to your system with the incorrect polarity – or maybe you connect the power supply the right way round, but you've inadvertently soldered the pins of some component to the wrong power plane(s) – and "poof" – a small cloud of pungent-smelling smoke appears.
Many people think that this is "game over" and the component in question can no longer function. What you may not realize is that it was only the concentrated smoke that was loaded into the component under extreme pressure during the manufacturing process that made it work in the first place.
In the not-so-distant past, almost any old smoke would do. More recently, we've seen the introduction of solid crystalline smoke because of its small feature size... that popping sound you hear when you apply the incorrect potential to the component is the rapid phase change from solid crystal to gas (the gaseous form is the one with which we are most familiar).
Furthermore, the rumor on the street is that, for next-generation silicon chips implemented at the 20nm process node and below, they are going to have to dispense with even the solid crystalline smoke – my contacts tell me that they're just going to fill the space with individual Bucky-balls and hope for the best.
As one engineer told me: "It's amazing how much black smoke they can fit into even a small FPGA these days, and once it's out there is no getting it back in again – even if you catch it all in a jam jar."
Well, I can certainly understand where he's coming from, but that's because he's not acquainted with the Electrical Smoke Re-concentrator from those clever folks at AEROstich.com:
When you read the product description on the AEROstich.com website, I think you will agree that this little scamp looks like a "must have" for every workshop, and it's a bargain at the price!
If you found this article to be interest, visit Microcontroller / MCU Designline
where – in addition to my Max's Cool Beans
blogs on all sorts of "stuff" – you will find the latest and greatest design, technology, product, and news articles with regard to all aspects of designing and using microcontrollers.
Also, you can obtain a highlights update delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for my weekly newsletter – just Click Here
to request this newsletter using the Manage Newsletters tab (if you aren't already a member you'll be asked to register, but it's free and painless so don't let that stop you [grin]).
Last but certainly not least, make sure you check out all of the discussions and other information resources at All Programmable Planet
. For example, in addition to blogs by yours truly, microcontroller expert Duane Benson is learning how to use FPGAs to augment (sometimes replace) the MCUs in his robot (and other) projects.