Microchips that ‘harvest’ the energy they need from their own surroundings, without depending on batteries or mains electricity.
That will be possible now that researchers from the University of Twente’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, together with colleagues from the universities of Nankai (China) and Utrecht, have for the first time succeeded in manufacturing a microchip with an efficient solar cell placed on top of the microelectronics.
The researchers presented their findings at the International Electron Device Meeting in San Francisco.
The placement of a solar cell directly on top of the electronics means the autonomous chip does not need batteries. In this way, for example, a sensor chip can be produced, complete with the necessary intelligence and even an antenna for wireless communication. However, the chip’s energy use must be well below 1 milliwatt, say the researchers. The chip can then even collect enough energy to operate indoors.