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Switching power supply units use electrolytic capacitors to convert alternating current from the socket into the direct current that devices require. Such capacitors are nevertheless prone to faults, shortening the service life of both the power supply units and the devices. Although film capacitors would be better, they take up much more space.

Researchers at the Institute of Light Technology (ILT) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed a digital control method allowing the use of film capacitors that require very little additional space. A microprocessor that detects disturbances from the surroundings is installed in the power supply unit and can thus compensate for voltage fluctuations. This makes it possible to use lower capacitance capacitors that require less space. The scientists expect this to triple the devices’ service life and in turn reduce maintenance costs. They are now looking for partners from industry to help industrialize the prototypes.