Tiny Circuit Makes It Possible To Pull Energy From Thin Air

Most of us are familiar with Texas Instruments (TI) as the company that made the graphing calculator we used in school. Calculators made be the company’s bread and butter, but that’s not all they’ve been up to. TI recently introduced the industry’s lowest power DC/DC step-down converter, a tiny circuit that could allow future electronics to power themselves without batteries or wires.

According to TI, the converter increases the amount of harvested energy an end application can use as much as 70 percent over alternative devices. The tiny power circuit allows mobile accessories and wireless sensors to manage microwatts generated from solar, thermoelectric, magnetic and vibration energy, which could eliminate the need for bulky, toxic batteries in the future.

Texas Instruments, TI, Nanobuck, power converter, ambient energy

Image via Texas Instruments

The TPS62736, or Nano-Buck, converter provides the system with an externally programmable regulated supply in order to preserve the overall efficiency of the power management stage versus a linear step down converter. The regulated output has been optimize to provide high efficiency across low output currents.

“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.”

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

1 Comment

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    Charles Ostman

    There are myriad “energy harvesting” devices becoming available, ranging from nano diode arrays to piezo electric material systems, IR energy conversion, devices that can operate directly from energy harvested from within living tissue, and so on. These are, to say the least, “interesting times”.

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