A new design for transistors which operate on ‘scavenged’ energy from their environment could form the basis for devices which function for months or years without a battery, and could be used for wearable or implantable electronics.
If we were to draw energy from a typical AA battery based on this design, it would last for a billion years.
A newly-developed form of transistor opens up a range of new electronic applications including wearable or implantable devices by drastically reducing the amount of power used. Devices based on this type of ultralow power transistor, developed by engineers at the University of Cambridge, could function for months or even years without a battery by ‘scavenging’ energy from their environment.
Using a similar principle to a computer in sleep mode, the new transistor harnesses a tiny ‘leakage’ of electrical current, known as a near-off-state current, for its operations. This leak, like water dripping from a faulty tap, is a characteristic of all transistors, but this is the first time that it has been effectively captured and used functionally. The results, reported in the journal Science, open up new avenues for system design for the Internet of Things, in which most of the things we interact with every day are connected to the Internet.
The transistors can be produced at low temperatures and can be printed on almost any material, from glass and plastic to polyester and paper. They are based on a unique geometry which uses a ‘non-desirable’ characteristic, namely the point of contact between the metal and semiconducting components of a transistor, a so-called ‘Schottky barrier.’
“We’re challenging conventional perception of how a transistor should be,” said Professor Arokia Nathan of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the paper’s co-author. “We’ve found that these Schottky barriers, which most engineers try to avoid, actually have the ideal characteristics for the type of ultralow power applications we’re looking at, such as wearable or implantable electronics for health monitoring.”
The new design gets around one of the main issues preventing the development of ultralow power transistors, namely the ability to produce them at very small sizes. As transistors get smaller, their two electrodes start to influence the behaviour of one another, and the voltages spread, meaning that below a certain size, transistors fail to function as desired. By changing the design of the transistors, the Cambridge researchers were able to use the Schottky barriers to keep the electrodes independent from one another, so that the transistors can be scaled down to very small geometries.
The design also achieves a very high level of gain, or signal amplification. The transistor’s operating voltage is less than a volt, with power consumption below a billionth of a watt. This ultralow power consumption makes them most suitable for applications where function is more important than speed, which is the essence of the Internet of Things.
“If we were to draw energy from a typical AA battery based on this design, it would last for a billion years,” said Dr Sungsik Lee, the paper’s first author, also from the Department of Engineering. “Using the Schottky barrier allows us to keep the electrodes from interfering with each other in order to amplify the amplitude of the signal even at the state where the transistor is almost switched off.”
“This is an ingenious transistor concept,” said Professor Gehan Amaratunga, Head of the Electronics, Power and Energy Conversion Group at Cambridge’s Engineering Department. “This type of ultra-low power operation is a pre-requisite for many of the new ubiquitous electronics applications, where what matters is function – in essence ‘intelligence’ – without the demand for speed. In such applications the possibility of having totally autonomous electronics now becomes a possibility. The system can rely on harvesting background energy from the environment for very long term operation, which is akin to organisms such as bacteria in biology.”
The Latest on: Energy scavenging
via Google News
The Latest on: Energy scavenging
- Hacking Plant Life: Artificial Photosynthesis Takes a Leap Forwardon May 11, 2020 at 7:00 am
These hybrid systems were able to fix carbon in the presence of light just like a plant and possessed all the essential characteristics of photosynthesis.
- The Hedgehog Concepton May 6, 2020 at 2:48 pm
Success can often stem from focussing on your strengths. In this opinion piece, Archetype Sydney strategy director Nigel Malone, explains how the ‘hedgehog concept’ can help businesses. The more you ...
- Make ramen, pizza, sushi and sourdough with fun meal kits from Dallas restaurantson May 1, 2020 at 1:32 pm
Stay-at-home orders that will begin phasing out this week have inspired many Americans to take on Fixer Upper-style home improvement and gardening ...
- PTPM Energy Scavenger Aims For Maintenance-Free Sensor Nodeson April 30, 2020 at 5:00 pm
[Mile]’s PTPM Energy Scavenger takes the scavenging idea seriously and is designed to gather not only solar power but also energy from temperature differentials, vibrations, and magnetic induction.
- Idebenone [Santhera Pharmaceuticals] Insights and Outlook 2020-2030on April 30, 2020 at 9:15 am
Emerging Insight and Market Forecast - 2030" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. The report ...
- Industrial robots could 'eat metal' to power themselveson April 29, 2020 at 2:40 pm
Scavenging energy by foraging for metal could power Internet of Things electronics and robots, suggest researchers at University of Pennsylvania.
- Industrial robots could 'eat metal' to power themselveson April 29, 2020 at 2:39 pm
A fundamental manufacturing shift is on the horizon, some say. It's where robots run all elements of our future factories. The machines will operate using brain-copying artificial intelligence and ...
- Industrial electric gas boosters set to benefit mining operationson April 28, 2020 at 2:38 pm
“Compared to pneumatic gas boosters, advanced electric units use one-third of the energy and offer flow rates 10 to 20 times higher,” George Volk, global director of sales and business ...
- Skeleton Technologies joins EUR 7 mln European project to harvest energyon April 27, 2020 at 12:33 am
Together with 17 business and academic partners from 9 European countries, Skeleton Technologies has just launched the InComEss (INnovative polymer based COmposite systeMs for high efficient Energy ...
via Bing News