Archived Press Releases


Ald introduces industry's first energy harvesting modules for wireless sensor networks

Zero-power circuits designed as AC power and battery replacements for emerging applications
SUNNYVALE, Calif. - February 6, 2007 - Advanced Linear Devices Inc., a design innovation leader in analog semiconductors, today announced the industry's first energy harvesting modules designed specifically to capture, accumulate and store power from a variety of energy harvesting sources and supply it to wireless sensor networks, remote controls and a multitude of other applications. The module's outstanding energy efficiency is designed to make energy harvesting a reliable and long-lasting source of power and can help unshackle many applications from the constraints of battery or AC power sources.

ALD's EH300 and EH301 EPAD® Energy Harvesting Modules™ can accept energy from an assortment of widely available waste energy sources the operate from vibration, light, chemical reaction, fluid and air flow, environmental heat and others. The modules then store this energy to power conventional 1.8V and 5.0V electrical circuits and systems such as wireless sensor networks designed to the ZigBee standard.

ALD EPAD Energy Harvesting Modules are completely self-powered, are always in the active mode, and always ready to harvest energy from sources that generate intermittent energy impulses with varying source impedances. The modules begin operating from 0.0V and operate at zero power to ensure that even the most miniscule energy charges can be captured, stored and used for the application. The zero-power operation of the circuit ensures that very little of the energy is squandered on the module's own operation. The modules are also designed to store and manage the energy for extended periods of time with minimal leakage or loss, to supply power to the application when it is most needed.

"Energy Harvesting modules provide a crucial link between the source of the energy, such as piezoelectric or thermoelectric materials, and the application. The energy provided directly by these sources is often produced in uncontrollable spikes with a wide range of voltages, currents, and waveforms," said Bob Chao, President and CEO of ALD. "Using components built with ALD's patented EPAD technology, we've developed electronic modules capable of capturing these energy sources with maximum efficiency to make these applications useful and practical. Up until now, it has been very difficult for developers in this field to capture the energy generated by these sources. By commercializing these important modules, ALD is providing the catalyst to this emerging application area to help it overcome some of the limitations that have held back the promises of energy harvesting."

Circuits built with conventional, off-the-shelf components are often incapable of providing the efficiency needed to make energy-harvesting a practical solution. Building circuits with conventional components usually required significantly more electrical energy to operate both the circuit and the application. The power generated by piezoelectric or thermoelectric materials, for example, often occurs at infrequent or random intervals and is usually not sufficient to directly and dependably power both the circuitry and the application.

"Piezoelectric fiber composites have a bright future in energy harvesting for ultra low power embedded electronics," said Steve Leschin, managing director of business development for Advanced Cerametrics Inc. "Our company has focused on developing energy harvesting materials to provide extreme life span power in the area of remote, wireless sensor networks. We discovered that this requires a multi-disciplined approach that leverages knowledge in several different fields. ALD's electronic energy harvesting modules solve a key part of the equation by accumulating, storing, and managing power from piezoelectric fiber composites. These modules serve as an essential power management stage for embedded applications."

ALD Energy Harvesting Modules utilize the company's patented EPAD technology to deliver zero voltage and zero power operation. This allows the power generated by energy harvesting sources to go almost entirely to the application. These characteristics make EPAD devices ideally suited for the circuits needed to serve as the link between energy harvesting sources and ultra low power applications. In future versions, the circuits in the EH300 Series Modules can be consolidated into an even smaller footprint, using advanced versions of ALD's monolithic EPAD IC technology.

EPAD stands for Electrically Programmable Analog Device. This technology enables precision depletion and enhancement mode MOSFETs to be built with threshold voltages ranging from -3.60V to +3.30V and very low leakage currents, including Zero-Threshold MOSFETS and Zero-Power MOSFETs.

The EH300 Series Modules function with input voltages ranging from 0.0V to +/-500V AC or DC and input currents from 200nA to 400mA. The EH300A is a 4.6mJ module for 1.8V to 3.6V operation, intended for supporting ZigBee standard transmission. The EH300A has a useful energy output of 30mJ, which provides energy for high power, extended range transmission. The EH301 Series Modules support 3.0V to 5.0V operating circuits. The EH301 is an 8.3mJ module for 3.1V to 5.2V operation. The EH301A has a useful energy output of 55mJ.

The ALDEH300/EH301 EPAD Harvesting Modules are available now starting at $36.54 in quantities of 1,000 with higher volume prices (100K) in the $20 range.

About Advanced Linear Devices, Inc. Advanced Linear Devices Inc. (ALD) is a design innovation leader in analog semiconductors specializing in the development and manufacture of precision CMOS linear integrated circuits, including analog switches, A/D converters and chipsets, voltage comparators, operational amplifiers, analog timers, and conventional and EPAD MOSFET transistors. Most standard functions are also available as ASIC cells for the development of customized integrated circuits.

ALD was founded in 1985 with a commitment to bridge technology gaps by providing analog semiconductor solutions to the challenges facing OEM design engineers in the industrial controls, military, automotive, security, and medical instrumentation markets. ALD is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., with distributors throughout the U.S. and Europe.