PMIC enables efficient energy harvesting

September 27, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
New company e-peas (Liege, Belgium) has introduced its first IC; the AEM10940 uses the company’s proprietary energy management technology in order to maximize the efficiency with which electronic hardware draws energy from the ambient environment.

The chip is designed for power-constrained sensing applications in IoT, wearable technology, home automation, industrial monitoring and wireless geolocation. It comprises an ultra-low power boost converter (exhibiting 94% efficiency levels), along with voltage reference, energy management and LDO regulator elements. Thanks to its innovative cold-start circuitry, the device can be brought into active operation even when there is minimal energy left - an input voltage of 380 mV and 11 μW of power proving to be more than sufficient.


The IC harvests available input power up to 50 mW from an allocated energy source, such as a photovoltaic cell. Its boost converter (which has an input voltage range that spans from 100 mV to 2.5V) exploits this for charging of any connected energy storage reserve, such as a Li-Ion battery, thin film battery, or conventional-/super-capacitor. It enables the charge rate to be almost three times that of alternative solutions.


The two embedded LDO regulators deliver close to 98% current efficiency across a broad load range. Respectively, these have a low voltage and a high voltage supply associated with them. The low voltage supply (1.8V), which can provide up to 10 mA load current, is typically used to drive the system’s microcontroller. Meanwhile the high voltage supply, which is configurable between 2.2V and 4.2V, can sustain up to 80 mA of load current and will normally take care of tasks such as powering the system’s wireless transceiver (which could be based, for example, on either BLE, Zigbee, SigFox or LoRa).


In addition to its superior efficiency and cold-start capabilities, the AEM10940 includes a dual-regulated output. The resulting sub-system utilizes only limited footprint on a PCB and requires just a handful of external passive/discrete components.


“The AEM10940 will be pivotal in meeting the demands of a host of new systems where every mJ of energy is certain to be precious. The versatility of this IC means it will