MIT Develops Picowatt Radio Chip For Internet Of Things

University releases new research that could help alleviate the vampiric thirst of connected devices for power

Internet connected devices require power to send data wirelessly. With the number of these devices set to double to more than 30 million in 2020, concerns have been growing over the amount of energy they’ll require to operate.

The problem is that if a sensor is waiting to be polled so it can answer with a snippet of data, the radio has to be in a state where it can be woken up. However, when the device is off, you want the least possible leakage currents.

Power saver

InternetofThings2To solve the issue, Anantha Chandrakasan, professor of electrical engineering at MIT, has come up with a new transmitter design that reduces power leakage by 100-fold.

By reducing a device’s transistor power leakage, even in standby the system will be able to provide enough power for communication at much lower power levels.

“A key challenge is designing these circuits with extremely low standby power, because most of these devices are just sitting idling, waiting for some event to trigger a communication,” Chandrakasan told MIT News.

“When it’s on, you want to be as efficient as possible, and when it’s off, you want to really cut off the off-state power, the leakage power.”

By applying a negative charge to the transistor gate while the transmitter was idle, Chandraskasan’s team was able to make the transistor a better insulator that saved over 10,000 picowatts in leakage.

MIT claims that the device is suitable for Bluetooth and 802.15.4 transmissions.

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