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The idea of little nano-generator chips inside all sorts of products for harvesting small amounts of energy to operate low power circuits is very appealing. This is a particularly important technology for sensors in things like security systems and other uses that only need tiny bits of power to operate. Being able to harvest that power from solar energy or vibration makes the sensors much easier to install. There are a myriad of uses for this sort of tech other than sensors.
TI has announced a new highly efficient boost charger IC for nano power energy harvesting that is able to harvest energy in the microwatts to milliwatts range. The IC can harvest energy from a variety of sources including solar, thermoelectric, electromagnetic, and vibration. That energy can be stored in things like batteries and super capacitors. The new IC is called the bq25503.
TI says that when the new IC is used in a solar panel powering a handheld device operating in indoor light conditions the new boost charger can increase the usable energy harvest by 30 to 70% compared to a linear regulator. That allows the size of the solar panel to be reduced making the products cheaper to produce and more compact. The IC is available now for $2.10 each in quantities of 1,000.