IEEE Spectrum Puts the Spotlight on Multiphysics

Bernt Nilsson | April 29, 2013
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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is doing some really cool things for its members. Chances are that you have attended their top rated conferences, downloaded papers from IEEE Xplore, or participated in one of many local chapter events. For electrical engineers like me, IEEE certainly is a rock to lean on for continued education and to connect with colleagues from around the world. Even if you are not a member you can tap into IEEE resources such as newsletters, websites, and their flagship publication — IEEE Spectrum. With over 400,000 subscribers and sharp editorial it is with great expectations I pick up the magazine from my mailbox (you can get it as a PDF too) each month.

Multiphysics Simulation – an IEEE Spectrum Insert

Here comes the May issue. For the second year in a row the publishers of IEEE Spectrum are devoting a 32-page insert, sponsored by us at COMSOL, entirely to simulation. The simulation engineering industry is, as we know by now, all about multiphysics, and electrical engineering is no exception. This becomes obvious from flipping through the Multiphysics Simulation insert with 12 stories about how physics-based modeling tools are put to work for product development and research.

IEEE Spectrum Multiphysics Simulation insert 2013
Cover of the IEEE Spectrum Multiphysics Simulation insert, May 2013.

When we were researching stories to be featured in the insert we reached out to users of COMSOL Multiphysics and its add-on products used for electrical product design. I didn’t know what to expect; would users be interested in sharing their work in IEEE Spectrum? Yes, indeed, the response was tremendous. Soon enough we ended up with a well-rounded mix of applications from high-tech organizations to report on.

Top Tech Companies Showcase Electrical Applications

I had the pleasure of working on the article from ABB in Alamo. They are designing the world’s fastest tap changer, VRLTC™, using COMSOL Multiphysics. This high-voltage device connects to power transformers and helps regulate the voltage in power distribution systems. Inside the tap changer sits cutting-edge mechatronic components adjusting the voltage blazingly fast. The designers tell the story on how simulation and experiments are used for the high-voltage electrostatic design of components that are constantly stressed by thousands of volts. This is an amazing device and we couldn’t resist making it the cover story!

The breakthrough of LEDs doesn’t come without design challenges. Thermal management is crucial for their operation. UK-based Sharp Laboratories of Europe brings up examples on how they are importing ECAD circuits into COMSOL for co-simulation of electrical and thermal aspects to optimize LED designs. In fact, this is just one of many areas where multiphysics simulation plays an important role at Sharp, where use of COMSOL ranges from early design stage research to product development. Other examples in the insert include LCD displays, labs-on-a-chip, and energy systems.

These are just two of the many topics covered in the IEEE Spectrum insert. Other topics include sensors and wireless power, biomedical electromagnetics, single coil actuators, Li-ion batteries, bus bars, imaging systems, and semiconductors — you pick your favorite story. I’m looking forward to reading your comments on this year’s IEEE Spectrum insert on multiphysics simulation.

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