A New Approach to Ensure Safety and Reliability of Electronic Devices in Harsh Environments

In recent years, the increasing use of electronic devices in a range of environments has highlighted the need to ensure the safety and reliability of these devices in the face of harsh electromagnetic disturbances (EMDs). To address this issue, a new approach has emerged for characterising the susceptibility profiles of electronic devices to EMDs, known as the testing-to-failure approach.

The testing-to-failure approach is inspired by the highly accelerated robustness testing (HART) method and is designed to proactively identify and resolve the inherent weaknesses of a system through the continuous increase of stress until the system fails. This approach involves subjecting a device to increasing levels of electromagnetic disturbance until it reaches a failure point, at which point the test is terminated. The device is then analysed to identify the nature and severity of the failure and to develop strategies for improving its robustness to EMDs. One possible test set-up in a reverberation chamber is shown in Fig. 1.

The practical application of the testing-to-failure approach has revealed promising results in the assessment of the susceptibility of electronic devices to EMDs. It has been found that this approach can be used to classify device failures into different levels of severity and that the nature of the failure can provide valuable insights into the weaknesses of the device.

Figure 1: Experimental set-up inside the reverberation chamber

One key advantage of the testing-to-failure approach is its ability to provide a systematic method for ensuring the safety and reliability of electronic devices in harsh electromagnetic environments. By proactively identifying and addressing weaknesses in device design and construction, this approach can help to reduce the incidents of malfunction, injury, and death related to the use of electronic equipment.

Looking to the future, an expanded range of disturbances could be examined for a specific product, including pulse modulated and digital modulated disturbances, to conduct a more comprehensive investigation into the susceptibility of devices to various forms of disturbance. Additionally, the testing-to-failure approach can help to establish better standards for electromagnetic immunity testing and safety engineering for electronic devices.

Overall, the testing-to-failure approach is a promising new method for assessing the susceptibility of electronic devices to EMDs and can help to ensure the safety and reliability of these devices.