Solar-Optimised PMICs In Indoor Energy Harvesting Development Platform

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The intelligent charging PMIC enables quick system activation and along with the photocells is suitable for new IoT applications

Making battery-less technology more common is the AEM10941 power management IC (PMIC) by e-peas that is incorporated into a new evaluation kit by Epishine, which provides intelligent charging functionality. Integrating a boost regulator plus two LDOs, the AEM10941 delivers a current to the 400mF GA230 supercapacitor provided by CAP-XX. The PMIC also helps to regulate output, thanks to its ultra-low cold-start threshold. This enables a system to be quickly activated again even when the supercapacitor has been fully discharged. All that is needed is a photocell input voltage of 380mV and just 3µW.

The compact Epishine evaluation kit (81mm x 71.5mm x 3.8mm dimensions) supports output voltages ranging from 1.8V to 3.3V and is adjustable to voltage increments of as little as 100mV. By discharging the CAP-XX supercapacitor, the kit can deliver an 80mA output current, which may be used to power a radio transceiver (such as BLE, Zigbee or LoRa). It’s also possible to connect a back-up battery if required.

The photocells developed by Epishine, which are printed onto recyclable plastic, provide a highly cost-effective method for converting light energy into electricity. The technology allows for high indoor performance and enables organic photovoltaics to perform as expected from GaAs-based units, opening up new applications in IoT, building automation, wearables devices and electronic shelf labels for retailers.

“We have been impressed with the capabilities of the AEM10941 chip to support minimal currents and quick cold-start. This has meant we can extract energy from the surrounding environment, even in the lowest of light conditions,” states Mattias Josephson, co-founder and VP of Business Development at Epishine. “Furthermore, the rich feature set makes it ideal in our evaluation kit, helping to show the many ways to implement light energy harvesting in IoT products”

“The combination of Epishine’s next-generation photocell technology, CAP-XX’s supercapacitor and e-peas power management expertise has resulted in a solution that can address extremely low levels of illumination, such as those found in indoor settings,” adds Geoffroy Gosset, CEO at e-peas. “Via this development platform, engineers can initiate prototyping for a wide array of products reliant on energy harvesting which would otherwise have been impossible using conventional hardware.”

“The very efficient e-peas power management IC is crucial to the Epishine evaluation module for its ability to harvest very low amounts of indoor light to charge CAP-XX’s 99% charge efficient ultra-thin supercapacitor, thereby often eliminating the need for a battery,” stated Anthony Kongats, CEO at CAP-XX. “Our three companies share the mission to enable battery-free IoT and monitoring devices that will operate for many years without battery replacement, and to dramatically improve product reliability and reduce ownership costs.”


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