Thursday, February 2, 2023

Creating A Greener IoT World

By Jay Soni

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Researchers have assessed the potential of large area electronics to deliver eco friendly, wirelessly powered IoT sensors.

Wirelessly powered electronics developed by KAUST researchers could help to make internet of things technology more environmentally friendly. Credit: © 2022 KAUST; Heno Hwang

Internet of Things or IoT, as it is generally referred to, is set to have a major impact on daily life and many industries. It connects and facilitates data exchange between a multitude of smart objects of various shapes and sizes—such as remote-controlled home security systems, self-driving cars equipped with sensors that detect obstacles on the road, and temperature-controlled factory equipment—over the internet and other sensing and communications networks.

The present state of the art technology relies on battery technology for their power sensor nodes, but batteries need regular replacement, which is costly and environmentally harmful over time. Also, the current global production of lithium for battery materials may not keep up with the increasing energy demand from the swelling number of sensors. What if this could be replaced with a wirelessly powered sensor node.

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Large-area electronics have recently emerged as an appealing alternative to conventional silicon-based technologies thanks to significant progress in solution-based processing, which has made devices and circuits easier to print on flexible, large-area substrates. They can be produced at low temperatures and on biodegradable substrates such as paper, which makes them more ecofriendly than their silicon-based counterparts.

KAUST alumni Kalaivanan Loganathan, with Thomas Anthopoulos and coworkers, assessed the viability of various large-area electronic technologies and their potential to deliver eco friendly, wirelessly powered IoT sensors. has developed a range of RF electronic components, including metal-oxide and organic polymer-based semiconductor devices known as Schottky diodes. “These devices are crucial components in wireless energy harvesters and ultimately dictate the performance and cost of the sensor nodes,” Loganathan says.

Key contributions from the KAUST team include scalable methods for manufacturing RF diodes to harvest energy reaching the 5G/6G frequency range. “Such technologies provide the needed building blocks toward a more sustainable way to power the billions of sensor nodes in the near future,” Anthopoulos says. The team is currently working on the monolithic integration of these low-power devices with antenna and sensors to showcase their true potential.

Reference : Wirelessly powered large-area electronics for eco-friendly Internet of Things, Nature Electronics (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41928-022-00898-5


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