Ultralow Voltage Step-Up Converter for Energy Harvesting Applications

Posted November 7, 2010 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

The LTC3108-1 is a DC-DC converter designed for energy harvesting applications. It is capable of managing surplus energy from extremely low input voltage sources (as low as 20mV) which is perfect for energy harvesting generators. For detailed information visit the Liner Technology LTC3108-1 product page.



The Engineer’s Portal to Green Design

Posted January 27, 2010 by John Artiuch
Categories: Tutorials


I have recently came across what I think is the best collection of low power design tips. This portal has some of the most cutting edge articles and papers regarding low power electronics. It is put together by three very accomplished editors.

This is a description straight from their page:

“Each day we’ll bring you the latest news—both staff written and aggregated from leading sources around the world—as well as in-depth design articles to help make your next device as energy efficient as possible. Our various blogs let you converse directly with our editors–the ex-Editors-in-Chief of Portable Design, EE Times and EDN. ”

Please take a look for yourself, it is definitely worth your time:

The Engineer’s Portal to Green Design

Design MSP430 Ultra-Low Power Challenge – $10,000 In Prizes

Posted October 28, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Research

Tags: ,

Hello everyone, there is an exciting low power design competition put on by Texas Instruments. You can win cash and TI development tools. I personally think that the MSP430 is a smart choice for any embedded design especially one that prioritizes battery life. I like working with the MSP430 and there is a lot of help from TI and from other online communities so even if you are not familiar with it don’t hesitate to start.  It’s going to be interesting to see all the creative designs and see how low the power consumption can get.

The contest information is below:


Show us what you’re made of by submitting your MSP430 eZ Designs and learning from other MSP430 users around the world. Choose from your favorite ultra-low power devices and tools – MSP430×1xx, MSP430F2xx, MSP430×4xx, MSP430F5xx, CC430Fxxxx. Submit your design in the MSP430 forum and learn more about the world’s lowest power MCU.

Get your free silicon samples at http://www.ti.com/msp430
Get your discounted development tools and software at AvnetExpress.com, and save through January 19, 2010:
• Get a 25% tool discount on any MSP430 development tool through Avnet.
• Get a 50% discount of the Code Composer Studio v4 software (a $500 value) through Avnet.


TI Microcontrollers on Facebook:


Ultra Low Power Wi-Fi for Sensors and Embedded

Posted September 28, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: , ,

GainSpan is a low power Wi-Fi semiconductor company providing Wi-Fi chips for battery-powered or energy-harvesting-based sensor applications. The products claim to be able to run sensor devices for up to 10 years on a single AA battery. I have never used one of these chips so I’m not sure about the performance or actual power consumption but GainSpan definitely has the right idea…..Smart Low Power Sensors.



Low Power MCU Comparision: nanoWatt XLP Vs. MSP430

Posted September 9, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

This is a video of a test done by Microchip comparing their nanoWatt technology to the MSP430. This is a good demonstration of Microchips efforts to catch-up to Taxes Instrument’s low power experience.

International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design 2009

Posted July 21, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Tutorials


This year’s Symposium on Low Power Electronics is taking place in the San Francisco Bay area and is scheduled for August 19 through August 21. The theme of this year’s conference revolves around green electronics covering specifically green data centers and green computing. The conference organizing committee has arranged for a set of complementary embedded (free of charge to conference participants) tutorials that accompanies these special session topics allowing for the symposium participants to probe more into the fundamentals and learn by interacting more on these hot topics. I have attended an ISLPED symposium in the past and only have good things to say about it, if you are interested in the Low Power Design space I strongly recommend attending.


Energy Harvesting Journal

Posted June 30, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

I just wanted to share a link to the Energy Harvesting Journal. This is a great place that has some very interesting articles and a collection of great technology that focuses on energy harvesting.

“Energy Harvesting Journal provides you with a free daily update of the latest industry developments. Launched in February 2009, this free portal covers progress of energy harvesting and energy storage in all its forms.”

Please take a look, it’s worth it!!!!

Energy Harvesting Journal

Energy Harvesting Journal

Supercapacitors for Low Power Wireless Networks

Posted May 28, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Supercapacitors can be used to give you the extra power burst you need to support wireless sensor nodes operating from low power energy sources or energy harvesters. A low-power energy source such as a 3V watch battery or a solar, heat or vibration-energy-harvesting module can usually supply the average power required for a wireless system, but may not be able to provide the peak power to transmit data over wireless networks such as IEEE 802.15.4 (Zigbee), 802.11 (WLAN) or GSM/GPRS.

Zigbee transmission (peak power 10 – 100mA) will shorten a 3V button battery’s life, and require a larger battery than would be necessary to support the average load power. Even worse, a 3V battery cannot support a GSM or GPRS transmission (peak power 1 – 2A) at all without some additional source of power.

The CAP-XX BritePower solution resolves these issues with a single-cell, thin-form supercapacitor that stores energy generated at low power by the battery or from the environment, and then delivers it in high power bursts for data collection and transmission. The below paper outlines innovative power architectures, showing designers how to use a single-cell CAP-XX supercapacitor rated at 2.7V in conjunction with a 3V energy source, instead of a larger and costlier dual-cell supercapacitor rated at 3V or more. Using a single-cell supercapacitor also reduces the leakage current of the power solution, thereby increasing battery life and reducing energy losses from environmental harvesting modules.

The technical paper is available at http://www.cap-xx.com/news/news.htm#InTheNews


Ultra Low Power RF Transceiver

Posted May 7, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

This is a part that was mentioned in one of the comments on my blog. This transceiver from Zarlink Semiconductor specifies very low power operation. Has anyone worked with it?


ZL70250 Evaluation Kit

Low Power RF transceiver for Zigbee and ISM

Posted April 1, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: , ,

Atmel has released a new RF transceiver for low power wireless applications. The AT86RF212 800/900MHz IEEE 802.15.4 radio has a receive mode current consumption of 9mA and 17mA in transmit mode with a power output level of 5dBm. The sleep mode current consumption is down to 0.2µA. The AT86RF212 performs extremely well, initial field test showed about a 6km link without the use of any external LNA’s or PA’s. A wide range of data rates are supported. In addition, security is handled by an AES 128bit onboard hardware engine. Atmel has created some common firmware solutions making it easier and faster to develop new applications. Take a look at the datasheets for full specs:


Low Power Design Seminars

Posted February 18, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Tutorials

Tags: , ,

Freescale has partnered with design house Nuvation and is giving low power training experience. The seminars will help you reduce your power consumption, BOM cost, time–to–market. Design engineers looking for practical techniques for balancing the design challenges of portable product development are especially encouraged to attend. An understanding of embedded system design and “C” programming is beneficial.

Please take a look to check the locations and dates of the seminars:

Low Power Microcontroller

Low Power Microcontroller Seminars

MSP430 Solar Energy Harvester Development Tool

Posted January 30, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

TI has released the eZ430-RF2500-SEH development kit which incorporates the Cymbet EnerChip EH Solar Energy Harvesting module. The kit enables designers to create and operate an autonomous wireless sensor network right out of the box. All of the hardware, firmware and graphical user interface software are included in the kit. It looks like a great starting point for developing maintenance free sensor networks.


30 Picowatt Sleep Mode Microchip

Posted January 16, 2009 by John Artiuch
Categories: Research

Tags: ,

The Phoenix Processor developed by researchers at the University of Michigan can run on a watch battery for 263 years. The processor uses 10 times less power than comparable chips when active and 30,000 times less power in sleep mode. The processor is designed for sensor-based devices. Some applications include medical implants, environment monitors, structural integrity of buildings and bridges. The overall design was based around reducing sleep mode power consumption since in most application the sensor is a sleep 99 percent of the time. The processor runs on 0.5 Volts and in sleep mode consumes 30 picowatts. This is a very exciting development, which could open up the door for electronics to be used in applications that are currently purely mechanical due to the inconvenience of replacing batteries.

For more info: Phoenix Processor

Tiny low power mic amps

Posted December 9, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

When it comes to low-noise and low power microphone amplifiers Maxim is probably going to be on top of your list. The MAX9812 and MAX9813 amplifiers come in tiny packages and feature a 230uA supply current and only 100nA in shutdown mode. These amplifiers are great for compact applications such as cell phones. The specs include a 500kHz bandwidth, Rail-to-Rail® outputs, 100dB power-supply rejection ratio, a very low 0.015% THD + N, and a 20dB fixed-gain configuration that eliminates the need for external gain-setting components. They are available in a 2.7V to 3.6V range for PDA and cell phone applications and a 4.5V to 5.5V range for notebook and PC applications.



TI’s Low Power DSPs

Posted November 13, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,


TI has introduced a few new DSP modules that were designed to increase battery life in a variety of electronics. For example the 674x DSP which targets audio, medical and industrial applications consumes one third the power of its competitors. Using 6 mW of power in sleep mode and 420 mW in active mode the chip adds to battery life while maintaining performance. The 640xDSP uses about half the power of its competitors and is designed for software-defined radio and other industrial instrumentation. The 550xDSP is the most exciting which uses only 6.8 uW in sleep mode and 46 mW in active mode. It targets music recording, noise-reduction headphones and multi-parameter medical applications.


Low Power Processors


Low Power Processors

IEEE Energy Conference

Posted November 7, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Tutorials

Tags: ,

The IEEE is organizing a conference that will allow for the exchange of ideas amongst experts from a broad range of disciplines on the technology, policy and economic framework required for the creation of a global sustainable energy infrastructure by 2030. The conference is going to be held on November 17th and 18th in Atlanta.

Some of the topics of interest are:
Reduced Carbon Generation
Reducing Energy Consumption
Replacing Fossil Fuel Consumption at the Load Point
Smart Grid and Power Delivery

IEEE Energy Conference

World’s First SMT Thin-Film Battery with Integrated Battery Management

Posted October 28, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

Cymbet Corporation is a green technology company which specializes in thin-film batteries and energy harvesting technologies. The company has recently reviled the world’s first thin-film battery with integrated battery management. The EnerChip™ CC CBC3112 and CBC3150 thin-film batteries combine the Cymbet EnerChip with battery control logic in a single surface package. The package encompasses a thin-film battery, charge pump with integrated DC to DC converter, supply supervisor, low-ripple charger, configurable switchover to battery when input power fails, supply voltage status signals, and operation from 2.5 Volts to 5.5 Volts. The EnerChip CC CBC3112 is a 12µAh device and the CBC3150 is a 50µAh device. The EnerChip CC devices are packaged in either 7mm x 7mm or 9mm x 9mm DFN surface mount, reflow tolerant packages. The EnerChip CC has >5000 recharge cycles, low self-discharge, stable output voltage, and does not require a socket or holder which improves product reliability. This solution is an ideal replacement for supercapacitors and coin cells. A single EnerChip CC can manage multiple external EnerChips for high-capacity applications up to 500µAh. This is great technology which along with energy harvesting will bring us a step closer to smaller self reliant electronic devices.


EnerChip CC

Green computers

Posted October 19, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

Ultra quiet and using 75% less energy than a standard PC, VeryPC’s GreenPCs are a step in the right direction. These computers offer extremely high performance while being environmentally friendly. For instance, the Fulwood computer is a 16 Watt dual-cored media center PC which includes an Intel P9500 2.53GHz dual core CPU, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD, Intel x4500HD graphics, DVDRW and surround sound audio. The system runs at an impressive 16Watts idle for the base model, 19Watts idle with all the available upgrade options, and only 2Watts in ‘sleep mode’. These PCs bring you the functionality and computer power you need while saving you money by using up to 5 times the energy of a normal PC. Moreover, the systems are made with the minimum amount of raw materials and have increased recyclability. I think this company is taking the right approach in their strategy and I hope that similar companies will begin to emerge.


Electronic Open Source Community

Posted October 8, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Tutorials

Tags: , , ,

Although this post is not strictly related with low power design, I wanted to share a great webpage that offers some very useful content when it comes to embedded systems. This is a webpage that filters through useless information and offers great articles, tutorials, reference designs and code examples for a wide range of electronic applications. I have found many articles that have helped me get started on designs or helped me understand and debug problems with my designs.

Please take a look: You Electronics Open Source

2008/09 Power Supply Design Seminar

Posted September 26, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Tutorials

Tags: ,

Texas Instruments is offering a one day Power Supply Design Seminar. The content is both technical and practical. The seminar is good for engineers just beginning their careers, experienced power supply design engineers and engineering managers responsible for the power supply portion of the system/application. The main focus of the seminar is on the techniques of practical power supply design. The seminar is offered all over America and will also be coming to Asia and Europe.

Topics for the 2008 Seminar Series Include:

High Power Factor or High Efficiency… You CAN have Both
Reducing EMI from SMPS by Applying Spread Spectrum Techniques
High-Voltage Energy Storage – The Key to Efficient Hold Up
Under the Hood of DC/DC Boost Converter Design
Improving System Efficiency with a New Intermediate Bus Architecture
Using a PMBusTM for Improved System-Level Power Management
New Advances in Digital Power Control
New Product Review

Texas Instrument’s power supply engineers have a great amount of experience and are considered to be Gurus worldwide. I’m sure that this seminar will be very beneficial for anybody working with power supplies.

2008/09 Power Supply Design Seminar

Emerging Communications 2008

Posted September 16, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Tutorials


This is a site where you can view some of the talks given at the Emerging Communications Conference in Silicon Valley (2008). A lot of the talks are focused around innovation and the direction technology is moving in. The reason I’m posting this on this blog is because you will notice that a lot of the speakers mention how important low power consumption is becoming in advancing technologies. Please take a look, because there are some excellent talks by some of the leading people in technology.

Energy Harvesting Demo Kit

Posted September 4, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

AdaptivEnergy offers a demonstration kit that can harvest energy to power a microcontroller and a low power radio, this is a perfect combo for sensor networks. AdaptivEnergy’s piezoelectric harvester is said to allow up to ten times more strain to be applied to the piezoceramic than competing piezoelectric energy harvesting devices. The kit comes with a chipset consisting of a low power MSP430F2274 microcontroller and a CC2500 RF transceiver. This breakthrough in energy harvesting makes it a lot more feasible to have maintenance free smart sensor networks. Take a look at the product brief for more information.

Product Brief

TI’s MSP430F5xx family of low power microcontrollers

Posted August 20, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: ,

The new MSP430F5xx family of microcontrollers from Texas Instruments run faster and are more configurable than previous versions of the MSP430. If used correctly the 16-bit RISC microcontrollers can by far be the lowest power solution for an embedded system.

The low power features include:

-25MHz core speed


-A Power Management Module (PMM), varying the voltage from 1.4V to 1.9V in four steps

-A Unified Clock System with fail-safe clock operation

-Up to Eight DMA channels

-32-bit Real Time Clock (RTC) for extended sleep times

-Core off with peripherals running draws a mere 2µA

-A RAM and Status retention mode of 1µA

-Programmable GPIO drive levels

-An improved A/D with higher performance and lower current consumption

-Ability to turn different RAM sectors on or off to conserve power

-Read/erase/write of the Flash is possible at voltages down to 1.8V

-Up to 256KBytes Flash

-Up to 16KBytes RAM

Additional features include a hardware 32×32 multiply, a 4-wire JTAG interface, and integrated pull-up and pull-down resistors on GPIO pins.

Check out the video for more information:

MSP430F5XX Video


Low-Power RF eNewsletter from TI

Posted August 11, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: , ,

Texas Instrument’s low power RF group publishes an eNewsletter with the latest news releases, new product information and developers news to help you stay up to date with their RF solutions. The eNewsletter has useful links to user’s guides, design notes and other great information to help you with your RF design. The subscription is free so go check it out.

Low-Power RF Subscription

Energy Harvesting and Wireless Networks

Posted June 12, 2008 by John Artiuch
Categories: Low Power Products

Tags: , ,

On June 10th 2008, Green Peak Technologies launched a new ultra low power communication controller. The Emerald GP500C is an IEEE 802.15.4 standard compliant chip which is designed to be coupled with energy harvesting devices in wireless sensor networks. The GP500C is a standards compliant communications controller that incorporates a transceiver with a fully integrated communications layer and an on-chip energy manager. The device is able to drive and control the data without being driven by a microcontroller cutting down on overall system power consumption. The GP500C consumes a fraction (10-25%) of the energy of traditional microcontroller based designs and has a system sleep mode of below 100nA. This is a great step forward for developing battery free sensor networks.