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When KEMET’s Chief Scientist Philip Lessner looks at automotive trend market reports, like the one predicting that in 12 years one third to one quarter of all cars sold will be electric or hybrid, he must be satisfied with his company’s current product development roadmap.

“As demands increase beyond the scope of the 12-V supply, auto companies are moving to 48-V configurations, which means passive components such as capacitors will need to have higher voltage capabilities—up to 75 or 80 V,” said Lessner, speaking Monday at the electronica Automotive Conference.

One recent development is KEMET’s polymer-tantalum capacitor product line. Designed for harsh environments, Lessner said that the devices operate up to 80 V, are suitable for ADAS and autonomous driving computer applications, and are fully AEC-Q100-qualified with max operating temperatures up to 150°C. A 175°C version is under development.

To go from consumer to automotive applications, Lessner pointed out that the company did not merely relabel an existing product, but made extensive changes in the material. This included changes in the lead frame and connection chemistry to make it more corrosion-resistant and temperature- and humidity-tolerant.

The solid-state polymer cathode system delivers low equivalent series resistance (ESR) while the tantalum anode achieves reliability levels that exceed the lifetime use of a vehicle. Additional features include stable capacitance across voltage and temperature, no loss of capacitance due to ageing or dry out, high humidity handling, excellent shock and vibration performance, low profile design, and small footprint.

Currently, 16% of KEMET’s capacitor business is within automotive, and with new product advances, clearly looks to increase that revenue.

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