Efficient power management circuits for energy harvesting applications

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Ahmed, Khondker Zakir
Mukhopadhyay, Saibal
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Low power IoT devices are growing in numbers and by 2020 there will be more than 25 Billion of those in areas such as wearables, smart homes, remote surveillance, transportation and industrial systems, including many others. Many IoT electronics either will operate from stand-alone energy supply (e.g., battery) or be self-powered by harvesting from ambient energy sources or have both options. Harvesting sustainable energy from ambient environment plays significant role in extending the operation lifetime of these devices and hence, lower the maintenance cost of the system, which in turn help make them integral to simpler systems. Both for battery-powered and harvesting capable systems, efficient power delivery unit remains an essential component for maximizing energy efficiency. The goal of this research is to investigate the challenges of energy delivery for low power electronics considering both energy harvesting as well as battery-powered conditions and to address those challenges. Different challenges of energy harvesting from low voltage energy sources based on the limitations of the sources, the type of the regulator used and the pattern of the load demands have been investigated. Different aspects of the each challenges are further investigated to seek optimized solutions for both load specific and generalized applications. A voltage boost mechanism is chosen as the primary mechanism to investigate and to addressing those challenges, befitting the need for low power applications which often rely on battery voltage or on low voltage energy harvesting sources. Additionally, a multiple output buck regulator is also discussed. The challenges analyzed include very low voltage start up issues for an inductive boost regulator, cascading of boost regulator stages, and reduction of the number of external component through reusing those. Design techniques for very high conversion ratio, bias current reduction with autonomous bias gating, battery-less cold start, component and power stage multiplexing for reconfigurable and multi-domain regulators are presented. Measurement results from several silicon prototypes are also presented.
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