At the International Solid State Circuit Conference,imec and Holst Centre report a 2.4GHz/915MHz wake-up receiver which consumes only 51W power.This record low power achievement opens the door to battery-less or energy-harvesting based radios for a wide range of applications including long-range RFID and wireless sensor nodes for logistics,smart buildings,healthcare etc.
The technology,once fully developed,may be used in personal electronics items which would not require any primary battery at all.A research team from Georgia Institute of Technology,USA,has discovered a method of using common body movements to generate power for LCD displays,radio signal transmissions and diodes.The ultimate goal of the research is to find a method to use body movements to power medical devices that would reside within the body.
The technique could also be used to charge portable electronics such as iPods and cell phones.”This development represents a milestone toward producing portable electronics that can be powered by body movements without the use of batteries or electrical outlets,”said Zhong Lin Wang,the lead scientist of the project.”Our nanogenerators are poised to change lives in the future.Their potential is only limited by one’s imagination,”Zhong added.The research is still in the early stages,but once it’s fully developed,it may be used in personal electronics items which would not require any batteries at all.This will help companies to make even smaller iPods and cell phones.
The technology uses zinc oxide nanowires to generate power from usual body movements.Even heart beats can generate power.In order to generate current,millions of nanowires are used in a nanogenerator.These are so small that 500 of them could fit in one human hair.The voltage created by five nanogenerators matches that of AA lithium battery.The nanowires could even be used in clothing in future to create current from body movements.In future,a person may decide to charge his phone by climbing stairs.
Today’s battery-operated wireless communication systems consume a lot of power at times when the radio does not have to transmit or receive data.This means that most of their time Bluetooth or WLAN radios on mobile phones are taking energy from the battery without adding functionality.Imec and Holst Centre’s wake-up receiver with ultra-low power consumption and fast response time can be put in parallel with the conventional radio to switch it on when data needs to received or transmitted.
Imec and Holst Centre developed an innovative radio architecture based on double sampling to overcome the 1/f noise problem.This noise affects most low data rate (10-100kbps) radios.As a consequence,these radios traditionally have a higher power budget than higher data rate radios achieving the same performance.By using a double-sampling technique the offset and 1/f noise is reduced and consequently the sensitivity of the receiver improves proportionally as data-rate scales.
“Within our wireless autonomous sensor system research,we aim to develop wireless sensor systems powered by energy harvested from the environment instead of using batteries.The power budget of such systems is only 100W for the DSP,radio and sensor.This ultra-low power radio of only 51W with small form factor is a major step forward to achieve our goal.It opens the door to many new battery-less battery chargers applications such as long-range RFID,smart lighting,and sensor tags.” said Bert Gyselinckx,general manager imec the Netherlands at Holst Centre.
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