Proximity sensor combines IR emitter, photo-pin-diode, signal processing IC, and 16-bit ADC in compact package

December 03, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. has added to the company's optoelectronics portfolio by introducing a proximity sensor that combines an IR emitter, photo-pin-diode, signal processing IC, and 16-bit ADC in one small 4.85 mm x 2.35 mm x 0.83 mm surface-mount package.

The space-saving VCNL3020 supports an easy-to-use I2C bus communication interface, and features an interrupt function and an integrated external emitter driver to extend the sensor’s range.

The VCNL3020’s 16-bit effective resolution for proximity detection ensures excellent cross talk immunity, eliminating the need for a mechanical barrier between the emitter and detector. While other products only achieve object detection up to 100 mm, the sensor’s programmable LED drive current from 10 mA to 200 mA (in 10 mA steps) allows distances up to 200 mm, and to over a meter when using the integrated emitter driver to drive external emitters. The VCNL3020 claims to offer excellent ambient light immunity by modulating the emitter signal.

The device’s interrupt function enables the sensor to work independently until a programmable threshold value occurs, and then it wakes up the microcontroller. This helps customers reduce their software effort, and lower power consumption by eliminating polling communication traffic between the sensor and microcontroller.

For mobile devices such as smartphones, touch phones, PDAs, GPS units, and digital cameras, the VCNL3020 saves power as a proximity sensor for touch screen locking. The device serves as an optical switch for computing and industrial devices and displays.

Featuring low stand-by current consumption of 1.5 µA, the device offers a supply voltage range of 2.5 V to 3.6 V and I2C bus voltage range from 1.7 V to 5 V. Customers can estimate the current consumption of the sensor in their application at The sensor operates over a temperature range of - 25 to + 85 °C. The VCNL3020 is RoHS-compliant.

Samples of the new sensor will be available in November 2012. Production quantities will be available in March, with a lead time of eight weeks for large orders.

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