Chip That Consumes Absolutely No Power But Still Works Great

By Vinay Minj

10810
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A first of its kind technological device that requires no power source and can save a huge amount of designing space

Image Credit: www.onio.com

We are all well aware that a power source is needed for operating any kind of equipment. What if it was told that you can operate your IoT device without any power source? You would perhaps consider it as some kind of cruel joke or may even find it insulting to your knowledge. Well, don’t be afraid…it’s actually none of them.

ONiO, a Norway-based developer and manufacturer of ultra-low-power solutions, has come out with an ultra-low-power MCU called the ONiO.zero that is capable of harvesting energy from its surroundings and utilising it; no external batteries or capacitors are needed.

Battery based solutions are the norm but they come with their own problems. Besides space constraint issues and maintaining an optimal storage temperature (to avoid lethal chemical reactions), the inevitable task of replacing them after a certain period of time tends to add to device costs. ONiO.zero, which is self-powered, gets rid of all these complications. Despite the small size, it is quite powerful and can operate with the help of a wide range of energy sources such as multi-frequency RF bands including GSM and ISM. All this offers a high efficiency of 85 – 90 percent.

Impressive technical features

The ONiO.zero is built on the RISC-V 16/32 bit architecture (RV32EMC). It has a mask ROM of 1KB, RAM of 2KB and ULP Flash of 8/16/32KB.

Its operating voltage range is quite small; just 450mV – 1.8V. Operating frequency is upto 24MHz while it can safely work under temperatures ranging from -40 to 85 degrees Celsius. An internal RF rectifier of multi-frequency bands (800/900/1800/1900/2400 MHz) provides support for harnessing power from GSM or ISM.

The chip is programmable and comes with analog and digital peripherals of SPI, I2C and UART. Its crystal-less BTLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) transmitter backs operation down to 850mV.

As per the ISO 134585:2016 Quality Management System (QMS), the device is compliant with the current safety standards.

Saves space and eco-friendly

The applications of the ONiO.zero seems to be endless. Since it is capable of powering itself with the surrounding energy, it can securely replace a battery, thus making it convenient to design wearables, watches or other devices that usually require several tiny components in order to function.

At the same time, the chip can also play a vital role in maintaining an eco-friendly environment by making use of power from piezoelectric, photovoltaic and thermal sources.


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