Ultra-low power boost converter supports energy harvesting

September 26, 2016 // By Julien Happich
The AEM10940 uses e-peas's unique proprietary energy management technology in order to maximize the efficiency with which electronic hardware draws energy from the ambient environment.

The chip comprises an ultra-low power boost converter (exhibiting industry-leading 94% efficiency levels), along with voltage reference, energy management and LDO regulator elements. Thanks to its innovative cold-start circuitry, the device can be brought into active operation even when there is minimal energy left - an input voltage of just 380mV and a mere 11μW of power proving to be more than sufficient. The IC harvests available input power up to 50mW from an allocated energy source, such as a photovoltaic cell. Its boost converter (which has an input voltage range that spans from 100mV to 2.5V) exploits this for the rapid charging of any connected energy storage reserve, such as a Li-Ion battery, thin film battery, or conventional-/super-capacitor. It enables the charge rate to be almost 3x that of alternative solutions currently on the market.

The two embedded LDO regulators deliver close to 98% current efficiency across a broad load range. Respectively, these have a low voltage and a high voltage supply associated with them. The low voltage supply (1.8V), which can provide up to 10mA load current, is typically used to drive the system’s microcontroller. Meanwhile the high voltage supply, which is configurable between 2.2V and 4.2V, can sustain up to 80mA of load current and will normally take care of tasks like powering the system’s wireless transceiver (which could be based, for example, on either BLE, Zigbee, SigFox or LoRa). The AEM10940 is supplied in a compact 24-pin QFN package.

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