TRW Airbag Systems GmbH, a subsidiary of TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.is claiming a breakthrough in materials development for inflator initiator technology. The new technology is a silicon-based initiator -- the first of its kind in the pyrotechnics field, says TRW.

Dr Horst Laucht, research and development project manager at TRW, presented the technology during a lecture as part of the Airbag 2004 seventh international symposium on sophisticated car occupant safety systems recently held in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Bernhard Vetter, worldwide engineering director for airbag inflators at TRW Automotive said: "The use of silicon as a material for airbag igniters is a new concept. Silicon has traditionally been used for electronic devices, sensors, actuators or microsystems. Dr Laucht's presentation outlines TRW's research showing how silicon-based igniters operate and yield great opportunities for the integration of electronic components directly on the pyrotechnic activation device.

"Further advantages of the new technology include improved packaging -- the size of the igniter is reduced because the material produces a higher energy output than normal pyrotechnic materials. It is also positioned in its own sealed housing making it less affected by humidity than normal pyrotechnic materials."

TRW is developing this technology as part of a project in partnership with the CiS Institut fuer Mikrosensorik gGmbH, Erfurt; Munich Technical University with the aid of funding by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) within the Microsystems Technology 2000+ funding program under the identification numbers 16SV1773, 16SV1774, and 16SV1775.

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