Ultra-low power converter accelerates energy harvesting designs in consumer electronics and smart home

January 07, 2013 // By Nick Flaherty
Texas Instruments has introduced the industry’s lowest power DC/DC step-down converter that can increase the amount of harvested energy an end application can use as much as 70 percent over alternative devices.

The ultra-low power circuit enables battery-free power to applications, such as wireless sensor networks, monitoring systems, smoke detectors, wearable medical devices and mobile accessories.
The TPS62736 DC/DC converter delivers high power conversion efficiency from 10 uA to 50 mA output currents, and consumes only 350 nA of active current and 20 nA during standby. The converter achieves greater than 90-percent efficiency across output currents higher than 15 uA. The TPS62736 regulator steps down the voltage from a power source, such as a thin-film or regular battery or a super capacitor and features a programmable output voltage.
“Imagine not having to change the battery in your smoke detector – ever,” said Sami Kiriaki, senior vice president of TI’s Power Management. “TI continues to develop circuits with very low operating current and high power efficiency that can manage microwatts to milliwatts and extract ambient energy. This new power circuit gives designers capabilities not possible with traditional battery-powered systems.”
TI also recently announced sampling of its MSP430FR59xx microcontrollers based on its “Wolverine” technology platform. These new FRAM-based microcontrollers can operate as low as 360 nA in real-time clock mode or less than 100 uA/MHz in active power consumption, and feature fast wakeup time of 6.5 us and high-precision peripherals. The MSP430FR59xx enable developers to add flexibility, performance and battery life to a variety of applications, including wireless sensing, energy harvesting, smart grid, building automation and security.
The TPS62736 is currently sampling through TI. It comes in a 3.5-mm by 3.5-mm QFN package and is priced at US$2.00 in 1,000-unit quantities. Volume production is expected later in the first quarter. Evaluation modules are available to select customers.