Israeli semiconductor startup offers integrated, chip-scale light energy harvester

December 31, 2013 // By Peter Clarke
Sol Chip Ltd. (Haifa, Israel) has begun offering an energy harvester photovoltaic cell chip, the Saturn 100, that produces six selectable voltages from 0.75V to 9V.

Sol Chip, founded in 2009, has a technology that enables the integration of standard solar energy conversion technology with established very large scale integration (VLSI) technology.

Although this could allow fine-grained solar conversion one of the primary applications is expected to be as an energy harvest device that extracts energy from office lighting and uses a capacitor for storage to provide a 24-hour power source.

The maximum power that can be extracted in full daylight from the company's first chip is 4 mW and in office lighting the power extracted is up to 5 µW. The size of the die is not publicly declared on the company website but it would appear to be about 1cm by 1cm. Additional voltage levels and also several voltage and power levels can be delivered simultaneously from separate pins of the device.

Sol Chip is not the only company pursuing this technology. ActLight SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) is using CMOS wafers to integrate large numbers of small solar cells with logic in a chip-like component.

Sol Chip describes its Saturn chip as the "everlasting solar battery." The solar cell is also available on an evaluation board, the Eval-101.

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