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Imec, Omron demo energy harvesting chip

Posted: 28 Jul 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Imec  energy harvesting chip  Omron  sensor 

According to Imec of Leuven, Belgium, and Omron Corp. in Kyoto, Japan, energy harvesting chips can power sensors in hard-to-reach locations, providing power indefinitely to sensor nodes without maintenance. The collaborators developed a prototype that weighs just 15.4g and harvests vibrations on equipment to provide DC power to sensors in the microwatt range.

Omron's part was to build the "electret" energy harvester portion of the two-part device, married to a power management chip from Imec, all housed in the same package. The collaborators hope to shrink future versions of the energy harvesting chip from 5 x 6cm down to 2 x 2cm. The companies claim the device can be tuned to harvest vibrational energy from industry equipment and transmit sensor data thereby putting industrial equipment on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Prototype energy harvester board

Imec and Omron will show off their prototype energy harvester board at Techno-Frontier 2014. The board weighs 15.4g and harvests vibrations on equipment to provide DC power to sensors in the microwatt range. (Source: Imec)

Current-day energy harvesters are too large and heavy for many remote sensor applications, according to Rene Elfrink, senior researcher for sensors and energy harvesters at Imec's Holst Centre. Imec's power management chip allows the vibrational energy from Omron's electret harvester to accumulate and produce a constant supply voltage between 1.5V and 5V, according to Daido Uchida, GM of the technology produce and startup division of Omron.

Omron has not announced a date for the commercial product version of the energy harvester and is field testing the unit with key customers.

- R. Colin Johnson
  EE Times





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