App note: Protecting USB Type-C Cable connectors featuring higher power & tighter pin spacing

Bourns’ built-in thermal cut-off devices adds extra protection from faults directly on USB Type-C cables. Link here (PDF)

The now ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard was initially developed in 1994 with the intent of providing a communication standard to improve and simplify communication between the PC and peripheral devices. An updated version of the USB interface standard is the USB 3.1 Superspeed+, which doubles the data rate to 10 Gbps – a 2x improvement of the previous generation USB 3.0 Superspeed. USB 3.1 Superspeed+ is backwards compatible with USB 1.1, 2.0 and 3.0 with a power delivery projected at 100 W. This gives users enhanced data encoding for more efficient data transfer offering higher throughput and improved I/O power efficiency.

In addition to the increased power capability and bandwidth achieved in this updated USB standard, the connector has been changed. The original simple 4 pin D+/ D- Power and GND format has been upgraded and now combines multiple connector functions into one. The new USB Type-C connector features 24 pins in a smaller form factor.

A downside to this combination of increased power and the extremely tight pin spacing is heightened concern about potential safety and fire hazards due to the possibility of thermal runaway at the connector. To deal with these potential threats, it is recommended that electronic equipment manufacturers and connector and cable manufacturers integrate overcurrent and overtemperature protection into the Type-C connector.

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