Technical Papers

Menlo Micro Whitepaper: The Quest for the Ideal Switch

December 20, 2021

Menlo Micro


FOR NEARLY TWO CENTURIES, inventors have been working feverishly to create the “ideal” switch. This quest began when William Sturgeon, a shoemaker and dabbler in electricity, created the electromagnet in 1824 which, a decade later, American scientist Joseph Henry used to invent the electromagnetic relay. In 1879 Thomas Edison invented and patented the circuit breaker. Twelve years later, the first “miniature” circuit breaker was invented by Hugo Stotz.

Today’s switching technology and electromechanical relays (EMRs) are rooted in these 19th century inventions which, nonetheless, have made innumerable modern electrical systems possible. Competitors to this technology only appeared in the mid-20th century with the emergence of diodes and today there are numerous types of solid-state or transistor-based switches.

The problem with EMRs however, is that they’re big, bulky, slow, and don’t last long. On the other hand, solid state switches are inefficient, introducing losses when handling high current or RF signals,  and requiring bulky heat sinks. As a result, engineers have to make compromises when choosing between an EMR or a solid-state switch. Engineers have been searching and waiting for a new type of switch didn’t require them compromise their designs; the perfect switch.

Download the Whitepaper.

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