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Researchers Devise Efficient Power Converter For Internet of Things

New design holds the potential to power Internet of Things sensors.

Researchers have designed a power converter that maintains its efficiency at currents ranging from 100 picoamps to 1 milliamp, a span that encompasses a million-fold increase in current levels.

Credit: MIT News

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Microsystems Technologies Laboratories recently unveiled a power converter that stays efficient at currents between 500 picoamps and 1 milliamp, representing a 2-million-fold boost.

The converter has a lower output voltage than input voltage, making its use for Internet of Things devices possible.

Developer Arun Paidimarri says the converter functions using packets of energy and not a continuous stream, so operation is conducted by turning switches on and off. The switches' control hardware features a circuit that measures the converter's output voltage, and if that voltage is below a certain threshold, the controllers flip a switch and release an energy packet. They then execute another measurement and, if required, release another packet.

The converter has a variable clock running the switch controllers at a broad range of rates, while a voltage divider enclosed by a block of circuit elements can halve quiescent power.

From MIT News
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