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Novel Energy-Harvesting Technologies for Energy-Independent IoT Devices

Harald Dillersberger (Principal Electronic Design Engineer, Matrix Industries)

Andrew Kelly (Director of Applications Engineering, Cactus Semiconductor - A Cirtec Company)

Location: 107C

Date: Wednesday, May 15

Time: 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Track: ESC Boston, Track C: IoT & Connected Devices, ESC Boston, Track D: Advanced Technologies

Vault Recording: TBD

At the forefront of the IoT revolution lie intelligent nano-power circuits and ubiquitous devices that harvest energy from environmental sources such as light or heat. Historically, there has been a gap between the energy demands of these circuits and the energy available from harvesting sources. Presently, we are approaching the cross-point where available harvested energy can exceed sensor energy consumption, making energy-autonomous sensors possible.

The industry is still limited by challenging engineering problems. One significant problem is that energy harvesters such as thermoelectric generators (TEGs) typically produce a very low voltage. The available harvested energy is thus unusable without a power management integrated circuit (PMIC) to provide high efficiency voltage conversion at very low source voltages.

Matrix Industries has addressed this challenge with novel TEGs and PMICs. Specifically, their TEG technology can harvest energy from an environmental temperature difference of less than 1K. Their proprietary PMIC that was designed and manufactured in collaboration with Cactus Semiconductor, leverages a nano-power boost converter topology that provides micro-watt cold-start, impedance matching, and regulated output - at a low size and cost. Matrix has demonstrated the potential of combining these technologies by producing the first smart-watch to be powered solely by body heat.

This presentation introduces the prolific market that make these technologies attractive, elaborates on the electronics challenges faced during development, and provides a summary of the exciting results.

Takeaway

Attendees will gain understanding of;
1) the large application and market space for energy harvesting technologies
2) the technical challenges associated with traditional harvester technologies and power management electronics
3) a new thermo-electric harvesting technology and new power management approach
4) the results and benefits of the new approach

Intended Audience

The target audience includes;
1) engineers and engineering managers tasked with developing new energy-independent devices
2) Investors tasked with funding those developments