US Patent 9,583,871 Electrical Connector System with Ferromagnetic Actuators

Abstract

Disclosed are interposer electrical connector embodiments including magnetic components used to facilitate interconnection of peripheral devices to standard input/output, or “I/O”, connectors (such as USB connectors) of devices such as mobile communications products (e.g. smart phones, tablets, and personal computers). The interposer connector embodiments disclosed include those in which a plurality of discrete permanent magnets are arranged with magnetic poles aligned in the same orientation perpendicular to and on one side of the electrical interface. Other embodiments include a plurality of bar permanent magnets located on opposite sides of the interface with all poles of the same type directed at the interface, but each one opposing a ferromagnetic element. These arrangements provide self-aligning capabilities useful for electrical connections that have restrictions on visibility or connection approach geometries. Other embodiments have a single magnet per mated connector pair and magnetic pole pieces and/or actuators to concentrate magnetic flux providing the magnetic attractive force for a plurality of electrical connections.

Claims

1. An electrical connector system comprising:a first connector, the first connector comprising:a housing;one or more first electrical contact surfaces;a compliant substrate;a first magnetic structure affixed to the compliant substrate wherein the first magnetic structure comprisesa permanent magnet characterized by a first and a second magnetic pole;a first ferromagnetic structure wherein a portion of the first ferromagnetic structure is disposed proximate the first magnetic pole and a portion of the first ferromagnetic structure is disposed proximate a first electrical contact surface;a second ferromagnetic structure wherein a portion of the second ferromagnetic structure is disposed proximate the second magnetic pole and a portion of the second ferromagnetic structure is disposed proximate a first electrical contact surface; andwherein the first magnetic structure is adapted to pivot and translate relative to the housing under magnetic forces.

2. The electrical connector system of claim 1 further comprising:a second connector, the second connector comprising:a second magnetic structure wherein the first magnetic structure is magnetically attracted to the second magnetic structure when the first connector is brought in close proximity to the second connector;a second electrical contact surface disposed proximate the second magnetic structure,wherein the first electrical contact surface is configured to be pressed against the second electrical contact surface by the magnetic attraction between the first and second magnetic structures.

3. The electrical connector system of claim 1 wherein the compliant substrate includes a compliant substrate aperture and wherein the first ferromagnetic structure extends through the compliant substrate aperture and wherein the first ferromagnetic structure is electrically connected to the compliant substrate.

4. The electrical connector system of claim 1 comprising housing sealing means wherein the housing sealing means includes at least one of:covering a portion of the housing with a portion of the compliant substrate; andembedding a portion of the first ferromagnetic structure into a flexible portion of the housing wherein said flexible portion of the housing comprises a flexible material.

5. The electrical connector system of claim 1 wherein the first contact surface is an electrically conducting portion of the compliant substrate.

6. The electrical connector system of claim 1 wherein the housing contains a housing aperture and wherein a portion of the first ferromagnetic structure extends into the housing aperture.

7. The electrical connector system of claim 6 further comprising a rigid contact wherein the rigid contact is affixed to the compliant substrate proximate the first ferromagnetic structure.

8. The electrical connector system of claim 7 wherein the rigid contact structure comprises asperities.

9. An electrical connector system comprising:a first connector electrical interface comprising:a housing including one or more housing apertures;a flexible circuit;a first magnetic element affixed to the flexible circuit, wherein the first magnetic element comprisesa permanent magnet characterized by first and second magnetic poles;a first ferromagnetic actuator, wherein the first ferromagnetic actuator is disposed proximate the first magnetic pole and extends into a housing aperture;a second ferromagnetic actuator wherein the second ferromagnetic actuator is disposed proximate the second magnetic pole and extends into a housing aperture;one or more first electrical contacts disposed along the first connector electrical interface proximate the first and second ferromagnetic actuators;a second connector electrical interface comprising:a second magnetic element;one or more second electrical contacts disposed along the second connector electrical interface;wherein the electrical connector system is configured to provide electrical continuity between at least one first electrical contact and at least one second electrical contact through magnetic attraction of the first connector electrical interface to the second connector electrical interface.

10. The electrical connector system of claim 9 wherein the first magnetic structure moves relative to the housing under magnetic forces when the first connector electrical interface is moved relative to the second connector electrical interface.

11. The electrical connector system of claim 9 wherein a first electrical contact is in electrical continuity with the first ferromagnetic actuator.

12. The electrical connector system of claim 9 wherein electrical continuity between the first connector electrical interface and the second connector electrical interface results from at least one oftouching of first and second electrical contacts proximate the first ferromagnetic actuator; andtouching of first and second electrical contacts proximate the second ferromagnetic actuator.

13. The electrical connector system of claim 9 wherein a cross-section perpendicular to the first connector electrical interface through the first and second ferromagnetic actuators is characterized by a magnetic flux path that is directed from the first magnetic pole through the magnet to the second magnetic pole, through the second ferromagnetic actuator, up through a point of touching of a first electrical contact and a second electrical contact, through the second magnetic element, down through a point of touching of a second electrical contact and a first electrical contact wherein the down direction is substantially the opposite of the up direction, and through the first ferromagnetic actuator to the first magnetic pole.

14. The electrical connector system of claim 13 wherein the second magnetic element comprises ferromagnetic material that is at least as long as the first magnetic element in the direction along the mated first and second electrical interfaces.

15. The electrical connector system of claim 13 wherein the at least one second electrical contact spans the point of touching of the first and second electrical contacts proximate the first ferromagnetic actuator and the point of touching of the second and first electrical contacts proximate the second ferromagnetic actuator to include magnetic flux lines directed in both up and down directions through the second electrical contact.

16. An electrical connector system comprising:a first connector, said first connector comprising:a first connector housing having a first connector mating interface;one or more first electrical contacts disposed along the first connector mating interface;a compliant substrate; anda first magnetic structure affixed to the compliant substrate, wherein the first magnetic structure comprises:a magnet having a first pole face and a second pole face; anda first ferromagnetic actuator wherein the first ferromagnetic structure is not a source of magnetic flux, wherein the first ferromagnetic actuator is positioned proximate the first pole face of the magnet, and wherein the first ferromagnetic actuator directs magnetic flux through a first electrical contact in a direction substantially perpendicular to the first connector mating interface;a second ferromagnetic actuator wherein the second ferromagnetic structure is not a source of magnetic flux, wherein the second ferromagnetic actuator is positioned proximate the second pole face of the magnet and wherein the second ferromagnetic actuator directs magnetic flux through a first electrical contact in a direction substantially perpendicular to the first connector mating interface;a second connector, said second connector comprising:a second connector mating interface;a second electrical contact disposed along the second connector mating interface; anda third ferromagnetic actuator wherein a portion of the third ferromagnetic actuator is positioned behind the second electrical contact; and wherein magnetic attraction moves at least one of the first ferromagnetic actuator and the third ferromagnetic actuator relative to the first connector housing as the first connector mating interface approaches the second connector mating interface.

17. The electrical connector system of claim 16 wherein a portion of the first connector housing limits motion of the magnet toward the first connector mating interface.

18. The electrical connector system of claim 16 wherein at least one of the first or second electrical contacts includes a curved surface portion.

19. The electrical connector system of claim 16 wherein at least one of the first, second or third ferromagnetic actuators is shaped to concentrate magnetic flux density characterized by a reduction in cross-sectional extent in a direction toward the position where a first electrical contact is pressed against a second electrical contact when the first connector mating interface is mated to the second connector mating interface.

20. The electrical connector system of claim 16 wherein a portion of the compliant substrate extends through the first connector housing to provide electrical continuity from a first electrical contact to the interior of the first connector housing.