Article - Vishay

surge & transients
Tr a n s i e n t V o lta g e S u p p r e s s o r s f o r A u t o m o t i v e
Elec tronic Prot ec tion
Transient Voltage Suppressors (TVS) for
Automotive Electronic Protection
Vishay Intertechnology, Inc.
Malvern, Pennsylvania, USA
major challenge in automotive design
is protecting electronics – such as
control units, sensors, and entertainment systems – against damaging surges,
voltage transients, ESD, and noise that are
present on the power line. Transient voltage
suppressors (TVS) are ideal solutions for
automotive electronic protection and have
several important parameters for these applications, including power rating, stand-off
voltage, breakdown voltage, and maximum
breakdown voltage. Following are definitions for these parameters.
The power rating of a TVS is its surgeabsorbing capability under specific test or
application conditions. The industrial-stanFigure 1. Test waveform
of TVS (Bellcore 1089).
Bellcore 1089 represented
the closest approximation
to the medium- and
high-power conditions
encountered by TVS
devices at the time when
they were developed and
proved an easier basis for
the range of purposes and
applications in which these
devices are used than ISO7637-2 [2] or JASO A-1 [3].
52 interference technology
dard test condition of 10 μs/1000 μs pulse
form (Bellcore 1089 spec. [1]) is shown in
Figure 1. This test condition differs from the
TVS transient voltage absorbing capability
test condition of 8 μs/20 μs pulse form, as
shown in Figure 2.
The breakdown voltage is the voltage at
which the device goes into avalanche breakdown, and is measured at a specified current
on the datasheet.
The clamping voltage appears across the
TVS at the specified peak pulse current
rating. The breakdown voltage of a TVS is
measured at a very low current, such as 1
mA or 10 mA, which is different from the
actual avalanche voltage in application conditions. Thus, semiconductor manufactures
specify the typical or maximum breakdown
voltage in large current.
The stand-off voltage indicates the maximum voltage of the TVS when not in
breakdown, and is an important parameter
of protection devices in circuits that do
not operate under normal conditions. In
automotive applications, some regulation
of the automotive electronics is provided
by “jump-start protection.” This condition
supplies 24 V DC in 10 minutes to 12-V type
electronics, and 36 V DC in 10 minutes to
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surge & transients
Tr a n s i e n t V o lta g e S u p p r e s s o r s f o r A u t o m o t i v e
Elec tronic Prot ec tion
Figure 3. Parameters of voltage and current.
Figure 2. Test waveform of TVS. ESD protection devices are
traditionally tested and specified for their ability to absorb an 8 μs/20 μs
surge pulse since this allows better differentiation between the abilities
of various devices than the IEC61000-4-2 pulse test, which all devices
should be able to pass regardless of their stated ESD capability.
24-V type electronics without damage or malfunction of
the circuit. Thus, the stand-off voltage is one of the key
parameters in TVS for automotive electronics.
54 interference technology
Figure 4. Typical vehicle power bus.
emc Test & design guide 2011
surge & transients
Tr a n s i e n t V o lta g e S u p p r e s s o r s f o r A u t o m o t i v e
Elec tronic Prot ec tion
Figure 6. For
ISO-7637-2 test
the standard
condition is a
VS range of 65
V to 87 V, and Ri
(line impedance)
range of 0.5 Ω
to 4 Ω.
Figure 5. (right) Output voltage of alternator in
load dump condition.
Automotive electronics, such as electronic control units, sensors, and en-
56 interference technology
tertainment systems, are connected to
one power line. The power sources for
these electronics are the battery and
alternator, both of which have unstable
output voltages that are subject to temperature, operating status, and other
conditions. Additionally, ESD, spike
noise, and several kinds of transient
and surge voltages are introduced into
the power and signal line from automotive systems that use solenoid loads,
such as fuel injection, valve, motor,
electrical, and hydrolytic controllers.
The worst instances of surge voltage are
generated when the battery is disconnected when the engine is in operation,
and the alternator is supplying current
to the power line of the vehicle. This
condition is known as “load dump,” and
most vehicle manufacturers and industry associations specify a maximum
voltage, line impedance, and time duration for this load dump status, as shown
in Figure 5. The source impedance for
load dump is higher than for the normal
transient tests because the battery is
disconnected and only the alternator,
whose internal coil acts like a current
limit resistor, is sourcing the power.
The following general considerations
of the dynamic behavior of alternators
during load dump apply:
a) The internal resistance of an alternator, in the case of load dump, is mainly
a function of alternator rotational
speed and excitation current.
b) The internal resistance Ri of the load
dump test pulse generator shall be obtained from the following relationship:
Ri = ( 10 X Unom X Nact ) /
( 0.8 X Irated X 12,000 min -1 ),
Unom is the specified voltage of the
Nact is the specified current at an
alternator speed of 6,000 min-1 (as
given in ISO 8854);
Irated is the actual alternator speed,
in reciprocal minutes.
Two well-known tests simulate
this condition: the U.S.’s ISO-7637-2
Pulse 5 and Japan’s JASO A-1 for 14-V
powertrains and JASO D-1 for 27-V
emc Test & design guide 2011
surge & transients
K im
ISO 7637-2 Pulse 5
78.5 to 100.5
65 to 87
0.5 to 4.0
Table 1. Major load dump test conditions for 14-V powertrains.
powertrains. In this section we review the application of
TVS for load dump in 14-V powertrains.
The U.S.’s ISO-7637-2 Pulse 5 and Japan’s JASO A-1 tests for
14-V powertrains are simulated in Table 1.
Some vehicle manufacturers apply different conditions
for the load dump test based on ISO-7637-2 Pulse 5. The peak
clamped current of the load dump TVS will be estimated
by the following equation:
Calculation for peak clamping current
IPP= (Vin– VC) ⁄ Ri
IPP: Peak clamping current
Vin: Input voltage
VC: Clamping voltage
Ri: Line impedance
The current and voltage waveforms of Vishay’s SM5S24A
Figure 7a. Clamped voltage and current of SM5S24A in ISO 7637-2
Figure 7b. Clamped voltage and current of load dump TVS failures in
ISO7637-2 test.
Figure 7c. Maximum clamping capability of Vishay load dump TVS in
ISO7637-2 test.
interference technology 57
surge & transients
Tr a n s i e n t V o lta g e S u p p r e s s o r s f o r A u t o m o t i v e
Elec tronic Prot ec tion
in the ISO-7637-2 test of 87V Vs, 13.5V V batt., 0.75 Ohm
Ri and 400ms pulse width as shown in Figure 7A.
In Figure 7B the clamped voltage and current of load
dump TVS fail in the ISO-7637-2 test of 87V Vs, 13.5V V
batt., 0.5 Ohm Ri and 400ms pulse width because the device
was over-dissipated. The clamping voltage drops to near
zero, and the current passed through the device is increased
to the maximum allowed by the line impedance.
The maximum clamping capability of Vishay load dump
TVS of ISO-7637-2 pulse 5 test condition with 13.5V V batt
and 400ms pulse width is shown in Figure 7C. To prevent
failure, such as that shown in Figure 7B, it is important to
respect the maximum rating of the TVS.
There are two kinds of load dump TVS for the primary protection of automotive electronics: epitaxial and non-epitaxial.
Both product groups have similar operating breakdown characteristics in reverse bias mode. The difference is that epitaxial
TVSs have low forward voltage drop
(VF) characteristics in forward mode,
and non-epitaxial TVSs have relatively
high VF under the same conditions.
This characteristic is important to the
reverse voltage supplied to the power
line. Most CMOS ICs and LSIs have
very poor reverse voltage capabilities.
The gates of MOSFETs are also
weak in reverse voltage, at - 1 V or
lower. In the reversed power input
mode, the voltage of the power line
is the same as the voltage of the TVS
VF. This reverse bias mode causes
electronic circuit failure. The low forward voltage drop of EPI PAR TVSs
is a good solution to this problem.
Another method to protect circuits
from reversed power input is utilizing a polarity protection rectifier into
the power line, as shown in Figure 8.
A polarity protection rectifier should
have sufficient forward current ratings, and forward surge and reverse
voltage capabilities.
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58 interference technology
For more information
The primary target of protection
circuits in automotive systems is
high surge voltages, but the clamped
voltage is still high. Secondary protection is especially important in 24- V
powertrains, such as found in trucks
and vans. The main reason for this is
the maximum input voltages for most
regulators and dc-to-dc converter ICs
for automotive applications are 45 V
to 60 V. For this kind of application,
using secondary protection, as shown
in Figure 9, is recommended.
Adding resistor R onto the power
line reduces the transient current,
allowing smaller power-rating TVSs
as the secondary protection. Current
requirements for microprocessor and
logic circuits in electronic units are
emc Test & design guide 2011
surge & transients
K im
Figure 8. Reverse bias status.
Figure 9. Secondary protection circuit.
150 mA to 300 mA, and the minimum output voltage of a
12-V battery is 7.2 V at -18°C, or 14.4 V for a 24-V battery
under the same conditions. In a 24-V battery under the
above conditions, the supply voltage at a 300-mA load is 8.4
V at R = 20 Ω, and 11.4 V at R = 10 Ω at a minimum voltage
of 14.4 V (24-V battery voltage in - 18 °C).
V L = (Vmin ⁄ (Vmin ⁄ IL)) × ((Vmin ⁄ IL) – R)
V L: Voltage to load
Vmin: Minimum input voltage
IL: Load current
R: Resistor value
Power rating of R = I2R
This supply voltage is higher than the minimum
input voltages for most voltage regulators and DC/
DC converter ICs to avoid wrong operation of circuit
by low voltage input.
While safety and reliability issues are important
considerations in automotive systems, they are beyond
the scope of this article.
• [5]
IEC 61000-4-5 International Standard Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) – Part 4-5: Testing and measurement techniques,
surge immunity test.
Soo Man (Sweetman) Kim studied electronic engineering at YoungNam
University in Korea and has worked for Vishay General Semiconductor
on field application engineering and product marketing applications for
rectifier and TVS devices since 1987. n
In this article, we’ve described all the transients and
their modes that can damage automotive electronic
systems. We’ve gone on to discuss the important
parameters of TVSs, and have demonstrated that
with the appropriate specifications, these devices can
protect circuits against all transients and the load
dump condition.
• [1]
Bellcore 1089,
• [2]
ISO/DIS-7637-2.3 2004 Road vehicles – Electrical disturbances from conduction and coupling – Part 2. Electrical
transient conduction along supply lines only.
• [3]
JASO D 001-94 Japanese Automobile standard, http://
• [4]
ES-XW7T-1A278 - AC Component and Subsystem Electromagnetic Compatibility, Worldwide Requirements and Test
Procedures, Ford Motor Company,
interference technology 59