Swiss Chip Company Reveals the World’s Lowest Power Solar Harvester Chip
EM Microelectronics has staked the claim of having manufactured a chip that starts on 300mV and operates on only 100mV making it the lowest figures in terms of voltage for solar harvester chips. The Swiss chip company is owned by Swatch and has a long storied background in being a power player for ultra-low power electronics. The EM8500 energy harvester chip work can work form TEGs as well as photo-voltaic cells, and on-chips are two peak power tracking algorithms with one for solar cells and one for TEGs.
The two modes are set by programming the built-in eeprom and comes with two control bus options which are SPI or L2C. Recently exhibited at the Wearable Technology Show in London, the EM8500 retains its edge on competitors by boasting a low quiescent current. The firm’s sales manager Jean-Noel Divoux was as usual tight-lipped and would not reveal to Electronics Weekly if the EM8500 chip utilizes EM Microelectronics’ patented sub-threshold technology.
For as great as the EM8500 is however it will not start up on 20mV while Linear Tech’s LTC3107 can which gives it the edge when it comes to working from small thermo-electric generators or TEGs. However an edge that EM does hold over Linear Tech is having two capacitive storage elements, a large and small one, which means that should the operating voltage reach max capacity, the input power is initially channeled to the small capacitor.
One when that capacitor is charged fully the input power is then funneled into the larger capacitor which can also be a super-cap or rechargeable battery. The 125nA with the dc-dc converter running produces the Quiescent current of 15nA in the lower power mode. At the Wearable Technology Show in London earlier this week, the focus was on ultra-low power processing and ultra-low power sensing chips. More and more original equipment manufacturers are moving towards technology that are ultra-efficient and minimalist in terms of operating cost all the while offering more and more features and power output. The applications for these chips can range from leisure, well-being, medical, automation, and smart textiles. Alongside the chips were also plenty virtual reality headsets.
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