Breaking Away from Tantalum Capacitors
To solve this cyclical shortage, and resulting inevitable price increase, now is the time to break away from the tantalum trap. Other types of capacitors have found their way into applications that typically used tantalums. For instance, MLCCs replaced the smaller capacitance tantalums, larger capacitance tantalums were replaced by aluminum capacitors, and in the low ESR arena polymer aluminum capacitors are regarded as an excellent substitute. With an abundant supply of material, aluminum capacitors are one viable option and include a range of products from aluminum polymer capacitors to surface mount (SMT) aluminum capacitors. Polymer aluminum capacitors use polymer as a solid electrolyte, and they boast ESR values as low as 3 mohm at 100 KHz. Polymer offers 10,000 times better conductivity than the electrolyte found in wet aluminum technology, and 1,000 times more than MnO2 used in tantalum technology. Polymer aluminum capacitors have available capacitance ranges from a few microfarads to 560 uF. In addition, they also offer stable capacitance against frequency and temperature changes. SMT aluminum capacitors cover an extensive CV range from 6.3 to 450 V/0.1 to 6800 uF and are available for general purpose to low impedance. State-of-the-art SMT aluminum capacitors use high-conductivity electrolyte,achieving 60 mohm (100 KHz) ESR, which surpasses regular tantalums. When rethinking the entrenched use of tantalum capacitors and viewing capacitor selection from a new perspective, engineers will be able to achieve better designs and reduce costs at the same time.