Energy-harvesting power management ICs for wireless sensor nodes

August 21, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Cypress Semiconductor has introduced what it believes to be the lowest-available-power PMICs that enable an integrated module size of 1 cm² for solar-powered wireless sensor node (WSN) designs.

Intended to manage solar-powered wireless sensors for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, these parts are said to be the lowest-power, single-chip Energy Harvesting PMICs, and can be used with solar cells as small as 1 cm². Cypress offers a complete, battery-free energy harvesting solution that pairs the S6AE101A PMIC, the first device in the new family, with the EZ-BLE PRoC module for Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity, along with supporting software, in a $49 kit.

The Cypress Energy Harvesting PMIC devices offer a startup power of 1.2 µW – one-quarter that of the nearest competitor, Cypress asserts, and consumption current as low as 250 nA, maximising the power available for the sensing, processing and communications functions of a target application. The fully-certified, small-form-factor EZ-BLE PRoC module, which is based on Cypress’s PRoC BLE Programmable Radio-on-Chip solution, works with the PMIC devices to contribute to the low power and ease-of-use of an energy harvesting system solution.

The Cypress S6AE101A Energy Harvesting PMIC is sampling now, with production expected in the fourth quarter of 2015. Cypress offers the $49 Solar-Powered IoT Device Kit that contains a baseboard with a solar module and a Bluetooth Low Energy-USB bridge. Cypress PMICs are supported by the Easy DesignSim, a free, web-based simulation tool for Cypress’s PMIC solutions used to validate Energy Harvesting System (EHS) designs, including the bill-of-materials (BOM), schematic and the power consumed (µW) by the sensing, processing and communications functions of a target application.

The EZ-BLE PRoC module provides an end-to-end Bluetooth Low Energy solution that includes Bluetooth 4.1 qualification and is compliant to wireless regulatory standards in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Korea and Europe, simplifying design and cutting time to market. The module integrates the programmability and ARM Cortex-M0 core of PRoC BLE, two crystals, an on-board chip antenna, metal shield and passive components, all in a 10 x 10 x 1.8-mm form factor. Engineers designing with the module can apply to add